Archive for May, 2005

Gerald Collier & His Pack Of Lies

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

Gerald Collier’s got all the credentials to be a bigger fish in a bigger pond. He’s recorded for Sub Pop and his most recent record features Bruce Kaplan of American Music Club. Although released in 2003 Breakin’ Down sounds as contemporary and exictying as just about anything on the present americana landscape.
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Pre-order here.

Pure Lonely
Who Could Ask
Don’t Go With Him

Smog-A River Ain’t Too Much To Love

Tuesday, May 31st, 2005

All right I’m so not the first to blog about Smog. I’m not even a fan, by that I mean up until last night I wasn’t a fan. Then I heard a song called “The Well” a seven minute long opus from Bill Callahan and now I’m a convert (literally, that’s the perfect word). I’ve got lot’s of catching up to do since Smog’s put out at least ten full length recordings.
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A River Ain’t Too Much Too Love is the new record and it hit’s the streets sometime in May. Drag City is the label and they’ve linked to another song off the record “I Feel Like The Mother Of The World”. This is all so loosely alt-country that the label and any label seems to be meaningless. Listen carefully to “The Well” below and tell me what you think, better yet tell Smog by buying the disc now from Miles Of Music. Maybe now with the arrival of mp3 blogs an artist as scarily talented as Bill Callahan is can get more of the attention he so richly deserves.

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The Well
I Feel Like The Mother Of The World

Matt Bauer’s Stunning Nandina

Monday, May 30th, 2005

I discovered Matt Bauer through my recent update on Hinah’s tribute to The Anthology of American Folk Music. His contribution to that project is a beautiful rendition of “Willie Mae”. When I did some more poking around on his website I found a number of excellent songs from his latest release, Nandina.
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Matt Bauer has fans with some of their larger Americana publications in France and in England and they have taken a shine to him and his hushed dour tales of death and destruction (and love). Here’s three off of Nandina and a couple rarities from his site. You’ll love Nandina; buy it here.
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Window Hill
Triangle Mountain
Jordan In A Plastic Bag

Snow Dove Demo
Head Of Little Horses Outtake from Nandina

I was saving this post for a special occassion but what the heck-The Violent Femmes’ Brian Ritchie and his Shakuhachi Club NYC

Monday, May 30th, 2005

I’ve Written about The Violent Femmes in the past…always trying to highlight a little of what made the band great (and not just “Blister in the Sun”). Here’s a link to the post on Gordan Gano’s gospel band Mercy Seat. And my earlier post on the great Hallowed Ground. Today I’ve got the new Shakuhachi jazz project from Brian Ritchie (bassist and multi-instumentalist for the Femmes ). Shakuhachi is a Japanese 5 holed bambo flute-like instrument.
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This is NYC/Knitting Factory/John Zorn type stuff with a healthy beat and an occasionally hummable tune. It’s also funky as shit; helped in part by the other members of the band including Television drummer Billy Ficca, famed Banjoist Tony Trishka and Tuba player Dan Nosheny. If you like the Lounge Lizards, John Zorn or any of the music from Jim Jarmusch films then this’ll rock your little world. Here’s a couple from Brian Ritchie’s Shakuhachi Club NYC on Weed Records (from San Francisco of course ;) Buy it here.

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Watazumi’s Tea Bowl
Tvottavisur
Oyster Stomp

P.S. Check out Swoon, Eskobar, A Taste Of Ra and Captain Fantastic on Swedesplease please!

Steven Pile

Saturday, May 28th, 2005

More from the six degrees department. Steven Pile is going to be doing some shows with Dao Strom whom I wrote about last week. Playing a 1931 national steel and a harmonica Steven Pile makes all the cliche’s and phrases you may have heard a hundred time sound fresh and new.
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Here’s three from the upcoming record Home For Right Now. These are unmastered cuts from this release which probably only adds to their allure and forthright sound. You can purchase his debut Overnight (2002) on CDBaby right here.

Discheveled
Just A Little Girl
Good Luck

My apolologies: more indie-psych-folk from Marjorie Fair

Friday, May 27th, 2005

I had this post all prepared a couple of days ago but now I see Marjorie Fair are the talk of the blogging world (along with Bullette and Soft) so I’ll now jump into the fray and at least give you two new songs to consider. If you’re really on the ball I guess you had this record as an import a year ago or earlier if you had a demo copy of it. The band is Marjorie Fair from LA and the delayed and waylaid American debut for the band is called self help serenade. It’s on Capitol Records and will probably be one of the only great records they’ll release this year (decade!!).
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Tha band’s sound is some hybrid of Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev and the Beach Boys. Go figure. “Empty Room” is the single but “Waves” is the song everyone is posting. So I’ll go with the purported single and the last track on the cd and my favorite: “My Sun Is Setting Over Her Magic.” Here’s the link to the import copy through Amazon.

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Empty Room
My Sun Is Setting All Over Her Magic **Standout Track**

The Doxies – Weight of Gold (May 31st)

Friday, May 27th, 2005

Weight of Gold is the new one from St Louis’ The Doxies. While their two previous releases were firmly alt-country the new one takes the band in a different direction. Weight Of Gold was recorded entirely on a 1980′s era 16 track analog recorder. Vintage amps and guitars were used as well to get a warm, 70′s kinda sound.
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The Doxies are on Emergency Umbrella Records and you can pre-order the new release there or on Miles Of Music. If you like Reign of Sound and something like The Sadies you should be in good shape with The Doxies. Here’s two new ones:

Sixteen And The Sea
Kids Don’t Know

Band of Horses (more from Sub Pop-their next "big" star)

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

I discovered Band Of Horses poking around Sub Pop’s website researching for the Fruit Bat’s post. Band of Horses is Sub Pop’s most recent signing. I’m not sure when their record will come out on Sub Pop (but maybe sometime this year). Horses share the new Sub Pop sound; that of the folk/country/psychadelia of Iron and Wine, Hopolaw, Fruit Bats, Rosie Thomas etc.
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The band has put 4 demos up on their site and if these songs get the full production treatment and a strong marketing effort than we all might be adding Band of Horses to our 2005 best of lists.

Monsters
Funeral
Part 2 Song
Bass Song

Sometimes it’s nice to fly under the radar-Fruit Bats (Sub Pop July 26)

Thursday, May 26th, 2005

If I was Stereogum, Fluxblog or Scenstars I might be getting a cease and desist from Sub Pop for writing about this so early. But as it is I think I’m safe what with all the folky, roots music posts I do I don’t think I’m enemy #1 yet.
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The Fruit Bats are from Chicago and record for Sub Pop. The main guy behind Fruit Bats is Eric Johnson he and his odd assortment of musicians have been touring with The Shins, Iron And Wine and Wilco and honing their rich orchestrated pop sound. Spelled In Bones begun as a “dark bummer record” has turned into an uplifting pop masterpiece especially the songs “Silent Life” and “Every Day That We Wake Up It’s A Beautiful Day”. Make a note to preorder this one soon from Amazon.

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Silent Life
Every Day That We Wake Up It’s A Beautiful Day

John Doe – Forever Hasn’t Happened Yet

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

John Doe’s new one is called Forever Hasn’t Happened yet. It’s a stripped down affair with a slew of big name guest stars including Kristin Hersh, Grant Lee Phillips and Neko Case. But for me it’s the songs with the “b list” stars that float my boat.
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“There’s A Black Horse” with Smokey Hormel and “Mama Don’t” with Veronica Jane and Dave Alvin are my standouts. So without further ado here’s the songs. I take it back here’s more ado, buy this from Yep Roc.

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There’s A Black Horse
Mama Don’t

Danny Cohen We’re All Gonna Die (Anti- June 7)

Wednesday, May 25th, 2005

While this is clearly the oddest music I’ve had on Songs:Illinois, Danny Cohen is not without his fans. As leader of the punk band Charleston Grotto, Danny had a true cultlike following. Now a solo artist in the vein of Vic Chesnut and Daniel Johnston, Danny Cohen has been signed to and will release his new record We’re All Gonna Die on ANTI- Records. This effectively makes him an instantly less fringe artist.
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This new record has 16 songs which range from Tom Waits inspired story songs to Jad Fair crazyness. Check out the songs below and see if they can slip through your protective musical barriers. Here’s a great article at LA Weekly about Danny’s ousider art. Click here to pre-order.
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Among The Cows
(Tongue-tied) In Quicksand
We’re All Gonna Die **Standout Track** (But Weird)

Motel Sex from Dannyland (you may know this song – I did)

David Rovics – The Real Folk Shit Pt. 5?!

Tuesday, May 24th, 2005

Almost all of the music heard on Song:Illinois is rooteds in folk music. But I rarely feature true folk artists. Artists whose songs are to the left of the Communist party, who are as anti-war as Rumsfield and company are pro, and who are in the mold of the folk artists from Woody Gutherie to Billy Bragg.
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One such artist who’ll reverse this trend is David Rovics. David is one of the leading critics of George Bush and his war policy. His songs deal with all of the issues surrounding the current conflict. His music and political bent can be compared to Canadian Bruce Cockburn with a little more bite. Here’s three from his 2005 release For The Moment, you can download the whole record on David’s site.

After We Torture Our Prisoners
Falluja
Guantanomo Bay

Billy Joe Shaver – A Life And Times…

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

I’ve written about Billy Joe Shaver in the past (how could I not you ask?). But there is news from the Billy Joe Shaver camp this week with the release of the live tribute record to one of Austins living legends and and all around nice guy.
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Billy Joe Shaver had had a rough and tumble life I’m sure before the personal tragedies that befell him in 1991. In one year his wife and mother succombed to cancer and his only son Eddy died from a fatal overdose of drugs. He has battled back and is memorialized here with this tribute record and dvd. Proceeds from this Compadre Records release go to the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Here’s Guy clark with “Randall Knife” and Todd Snider with his take on Billy Joe’s “Waco Moon”. Buy it here.

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Randall Knife

Waco Moon

Mark Mulcahy of Miracle Legion – Solo Record Out Now

Monday, May 23rd, 2005

I’m sure there are some die hard Miracle Legion fans out there who could write a novella on how important the band was to the the fledgly indie rock scene of the early/late 80′s. Unfairly criticized as an REM clone, Miracle legion and specifically the lead singer/songwriter Mark Mulcahy created music that was just this side of accessable. And just the other side of punk.
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Now on his own and with a new record called In Pursuit Of Your Happiness Mark Mulcahy is back with a vengence. Released April 25 In Pursuit is a fully realized solo album with a wide array of instruments (organ, French horn, accordian and cello) and textures (harmony backing vocals, long guitar lines etc). J. Mascis is on lead guitar on several tracks. The records got a lot of soul. And more so than many things featured here is an excellent headphone aural experience. Here’s three from Mark Mulcahy. Buy the disc from Mark’s label Mezzotint here.

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In Pursuit Of Your Happiness
Cookie Jar
A Smack On the Lips

Others from the mezzotint vault

Miracle Legion
The Ladies From Town

Mark Mulcahy
We’re Not In Charlestown
Hey Self Defeater

Polaris
Waiting For October

More new music from Sweden – Exclusive access to The Reverend Big O’s new single

Sunday, May 22nd, 2005

Songs:Illinois and Swedesplease have the first listen to the first single off of the Reverend Big O’s label debut on Realease Music. This may only be available for a limited time depending on the number of downloads and the bandwidth, so right click and save asap. The song is “Let The Air In” and it’s an atmospheric, slow burner that builds and builds.

The Reverend Big O is based in Malmo, Sweden. Their music is slow and melancholic. And despite (perhaps because of) their unapolagetically somber sound they have a large fanbase and are one of the most respected bands coming out of Sweden. They had a number of releases out on West Side Fabrication but as I said this new 3 song cd is out on Monday on Realease. Here’s the link to purchase but it won’t work till Monday.

Let The Air In

Here’s a couple off of Songs To Kill Your Lovers By

The Way
Bodies On Fire

Robb Benson-Seattle’s Lost Treasure

Saturday, May 21st, 2005

Nominated three years in a row as best singer-songwriter in Seattle, Robb Benson records for Roam Records. This prolific songwriter can string a bunch of noncongruent words together and deliver the song in such a way that it sounds completely natural. “Treemind” from his most recent record of the same name is a perfect example.
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The four songs on his website are a great introduction to Robb Benson. There are two tracks from his most recent records that come with a full, produced sound. Along with those two are two demo tracks performed in a more lofi style.

Enjoy these songs and click here to buy Treemind.

The Tree Mind
Of Light

Demos
One Last Wish
What Is Real Is Asleep In Us

ANTI- Records Signs Betty Lavette (two soul classics from the early sixties)

Friday, May 20th, 2005

ANTI- Records has signed Betty Lavette. Unlike their unusual signing of Solomon Burke this one of Bett Lavette makes more sense as they have Solomon’s records under their belt and an able (genius) producer in Joe Henry. I’d be lying to you if I told you I knew a lot about Betty, I don’t. She had some hits or more likely near hits in the early sixties and has been an important R&B singer since.
Bettye_LaVette__Mary_Wilson_and_Bonnie_Raitt
This is really something you’d find on Tuwa’s Shanty, Funk You, or Soul Sides. But I found these two songs from `62 (I think) on the ANTI- website and thought I would share them on this beautiful night in Chicago. Look for Betty Lavette’s Joe Henry produced ANTI- Records debut this Autumn. She’ll finally get her due!!

You’ll Never Change
Let Me Down Easy

Finally a song from Wan Light’s new disc Carmeline

Friday, May 20th, 2005

Finally a song is up from Wan Light on Labrador and it’s just what we’ve all been waiting for. A dreamy pop masterpiece half Mercury Rev, half Radar Bros and half Joy Division (I know that’s 150% – it’s that good). Wan Light’s new disc is out now on Labrador entitled Carmeline.
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Named after an old Orange Juice song and partly patterned on the music of Edwyn Collins (btw, get better soon!) style of music, Wan Light have arrived with this new record and on the basis of this one song have crafted something moving and permanent. Buy the record here.

Airborn

Bonus
In The Heart of Sara Freeman
Grim Reality

Jennie Sterns coming in 2005

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Having rediscovered Mary Larson I now discover Jennie Sterns linked to via M. Larson. Jennie is an American singer who has garnered quite a bit of good press in the UK (like Mary Larson). Her two albums presently available are self-released affairs that can be bought at her numerous shows or through her website. Her forthcoming release sounds like the one that’ll make her a household name (at least in households where Kathleen Edwards, Mary Gauthier and Madeline Peyroux are spoken of).
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The reason is simple and two words: Gurf Morlix (producer extraodinaire). Jim Lauderdale is also featured singing on two tracks. Apparently the album’s done and will be released in 2005. If you want to start a new americana label this could be your inaugeral release. Meanwhile from the songs I’ve heard from her two self-released records it’ll be hard to top what she’s already accomplished. Here’s four songs from her 2004 release Sing Desire.

You Save Me

County Road
Session of Dreams
Bitter Sweet

Slow Dazzle From Misra Records (June)

Thursday, May 19th, 2005

Slow Dazzle is one in a rather short line of bands that are clearly inspired and influenced by Mazzy Starr. Instrumentally akin to Galaxie 500 and before them of course Velvet Underground, Slow Dazzle is the side project of two thirds of the Mendoza Line.
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Below are two examples of Slow Dazzle’s retro fuzzy guitar sound from The View From The Floor, there’s one more mp3 available at the Misra Website here. Misra has put this release and their other new record (the impossible to spell – Phosphorescent) on sale at their website well before the June release date. Pick `em up at the Misra website here.
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Fleur De Lie
A Welfare State