Archive for June, 2005

Snow and Voices

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

Lauri Krantz is an LA based singer-songwriter whose new band project is called Snow and Voices. It’s been picked up by Parasol Records and understandbly so. Her blend of softly sung vocals with rich and warm pop orchestration will be a hit with fans of Aimee Mann and Over The Rhine.
Here’s a couple from this brand new record with a release date of July 12. and one from her previous release as Lauri Krantz. More info here.

Carry Us HomeNo Regrets [Download]

To Fall [Download]

Stina Nordenstam’s The World Is Saved (2005, V2)

Thursday, June 30th, 2005

There have been lapses in my coverage of the Swedish music scene but none bigger than not writing about Stina Nordenstam until now. Stina has been a constant presence in Sweden since her debut in 1991 even during her self imposed exile to an island off Sweden in the late 90′s. I don’t have a long history with Stina but I am presently listening to and enjoying her 2004 release The World Is Saved. This album has never been released in the US although it seems as though V2 has plans to release it soon (I have the US advance but no street date is listed).

For many Stina may have come to their attention first when one of her songs (“Little Star”) appeared on the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack. Comparisons are hard for an artist of this stature solely for the reason that her music may have inspired those I compare her to but if I must I hear equal parts Bjork, Polly Paulusma, and especially Emiliani Torrini. Her sound is characterised by soaring vocals over a bed of jazz and classical influenced loungy trip-hop.

Here’s a couple from the impending US release of The World Is Saved. If you have to have this now and money is no object pick it up as an import from Amazon here.

Get On With Your LifeThe Morning Belongs To The Night [Download]

PS There’s an extra track off The World Is Saved over at Swedesplease.

Last Of the Blacksmiths

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

The Last Of The Blacksmiths are a SF based band that have just released their debut. This self-released record is best described as lo-fi americana music with lazy, slurred vocals on top. Think Palace or Prenice Brothers or even Richard Buckner. The band has signed up some guests to play on their debut including Jolie Holland who they clearly have much in common with.

Like the bands South San Gabriel or more recently Great Lake Swimmers the music on the Last Of The Blacksmith’s debut is instantly appealing (if this is what you like!) but resonates with repeat listens. Buy the full length at

Miles Of Music now. Here’s two songs from their self titled debut.In My HandsTree Song [Download]

Denison Witmer’s Are You a Dreamer? (July 26, Militia Group)

Wednesday, June 29th, 2005

Denison Witmer is someone I’ve written about before and someone whose career I’m following. Denison has been signed (the first artist I believe) to The Militia Group (also does pr and indie promotion). His new record is an adventurous and interesting concept record of sorts. It’s loosely tied together by the idea or theme of dreams and dreaming. Denison says it could be actual dreams or the concept of fulfilling ones dreams.
Nonetheless Denison has surrounded himself with dream guest stars and collaboraters, including members of the Innocence Mission, Sufjan Stevens, and James McAlistair. I guess this is folk music for the indie rock crowd and that’s not a negative thing. Denison creates songs that resonate with a younger set and envelops the songs with a rich tapestry of sound. But stripped to their essential elements the songs on Are You A Dreamer? act as folk music in the truest sense of the word connecting to the audience through simplicity and honesty.

Are You A Dreamer? is set to be released on July 26th but you can pre-order it now through the Militia Group website by clicking here. Here’s two from the upcoming release:

East From WestCalifornia Brown And Blue [Download]

Bonus track from previous DW record

Love In Mind [Download]

Jim White presents Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus (Cat Power, Johnny Dowd, David Johanson, and The Handsome Family)

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

Who would have thought there’d be a music soundtrack featuring all the music we love. O’ Brother was one thing and then Down From The Mountain but they’re not comparable to Jim White’s soundtrack to the documentary Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus. Artists like The Handsome Family, Cat Power, Johnny Dowd and Sixteen Horsepower are featured on the soundtrack and apparently in the film as well. The film is a documentary and exploration of the American south with Jim White (No Such Place, Drill A Hole… and Wrong Eyed Jesus) as narrator and tour guide. Musicians, storytellers and regular folk are all interviewed along the way. Sounds great…I’m guessing it’ll be on DVD any day.

We have David Byrne to thank for the wide release of the soundtrack as it is available now on his label Luaka Pop. This label is home to Jim White’s other records as well. Here’s a couple of southern gothic tales of death and destruction from Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus. Buy it from Amazon here.

The Wound That Never Heals – Jim WhiteFirst There Was [Download]
– Johnny Dowd with Maggie Brown

P.S. Not sure if you saw it this morning but I’ve got two songs posted from the new Giant Sand record (Arizona Amp & Alternator on Thrill Jockey). Click here for Giant Sand, The Concretes, Kevin Thista and Tom Brosseau.

Giant Sand by any other name…Arizona Amp & Alternator (Thrill Jockey, Fall 05)

Tuesday, June 28th, 2005

Any new disc from Howe Gelb or Giant Sand is a cause for celebration. Arizona Amp & Alternator is Howe Gelb’s new project. From the first note and first dry, desert vocal by Howe on Arizona Amp & Alternator it is clear this is no experimental, one-off mistake. I’m not sure how it’s going to be marketed (it’s got a fall release date on Thrill Jockey) but this is Giant Sand through and through. In fact it’s the best Giant Sand I’ve heard since Chore Of Enchantment.
There is a title track and it’s listed as AAAA1 – AAAA4 (four versions of the title track – stands for “Arizona Amp And Alternator”). It’s an impressive cut and proves that Howe is one of the few “yellow pages singers” meaning he could sing the listings in the yellow pages and make it resonate with emotion and feeling. So there’s nowhere to link yet to buy this but I hope that’ll be ok with the powers that be…as soon as there is I’ll revisit the record and link to the appropriate webstore. For now explore the Thrill Jockey site for other great releases by Howe.

AAAA1Bottom Of The Barrell [Download]

Kevin Thista – Home Demons Vol. 1 (July 26)

Monday, June 27th, 2005

You can’t live in Chicago and not have heard of

Kevin Thista. However it’s one thing to hear about an artist (by press, internet or word of mouth) but quite another to hear their music. Before the internet most of the artists currently getting press on mp3 blogs would be literally unheard. Kevin Thista is a perfect example, despite garnering more press than any individual is due or owed, his music was by and large unheard.The Chicago Reader called his last release 2004′s Wake Up Captain the #1 Chicago release of the year, while the UK’s Uncut put it in their top 60. Parasol gained access to this prolific writer’s vault of out-takes,demos and download only releases (Dracula) and will be releasing it on the unsuspecting public on July 28. Here’a sample track “I Don’t Blame You” from Home Demons Vol 1. More info here.I Don’t Blame You [Download]

From Wake Up Captain

Oh My [Download]

Exclusive preview – The Concretes – Lay Your Battle Axe Down (July 26, Astralwerks)

Monday, June 27th, 2005

The Concretes share some things in common with The Cardigans like being from Sweden, female band members, 9 letters in each name and both having gained as much notoriety and fame outside of Sweden as they have within. The Concretes formed 10 years ago as a trio of three young women from Stockholm but only recently began to take the US by storm when their proper debut release came out last year.

The band is now referred to as a collective as it’s membership has grown to 8 musicians. The sound has grown as well, becoming fuller and more orchestrated (strings, woodwinds and electronics) while not leaving behind their basic VU/Mazzy Star origins. Lay Your Battle Axe Down comes out on Astralwerks in the US on July 26. There is very little info online yet about this record all I can say is that it will only grow the band’s already stellar reputation. Preorder Lay Your Battle Axe Down through Amazon now. Here’s a couple from the new record including their ethereal cover of The Rolling Stones “Miss You”.

Miss YouForces [Download]

Tom Brossau’s new disc "What I mean To Say Is Goodbye" (Updated Sunday with a song from his side project Les Chelley’s)

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

Sylvie Lewis was a revelation to me when I first her heard music; her mix of singer-songwriterly lyrics, jazzlike vocals and cream of the crop session musicians created a dazzling debut that I keep returning to. Tom Brosseau is her male counterpart. The similarities are striking. Both artists based in LA, both extremely independent and literate and both mining the very productive singer songwriter vein. On Tom’s new disc he enlists (although that’s not the right word as it sounds like they all just hung out in the studio) Jon Brion, Sam Jones, Benmont Trench and Sara Watkins to fill out his sound.Like Jon Brion (Fiona Apple, The Eels, Garrison Starr) Tom is a fixture of the famous LA nightclub Largo. He performs there regularly and is known to stop in and sit it on Jon Brion’s late night Friday residence. I’ve never heard Tom before this record, his third, but I’m amazed…flabbegasted really. His high-pitched, falsetto voice and laid back music on what I meant to say is goodbye sounds like it was recorded during another era yet thouroughly modern at the same time. Here’s a couple from that record, don’t wait..get it from Loveless Records now here.West Of TownGrafton [Download]

Kick Matilda Out Of Bed (Live on KCRW)I Love Paris [Download]

P.S. The bassist Tom uses here also plays live with the band The Ditty Bops. This group is fronted by two beautiful and theatrical women. Their blend of hot jazz, swing and caberet is intoxicating. Kop E Kat has a link to the video to their song “Wishful Thinking” here.

Lane commented that Tom Brosseau has a side project band called Les Shelley’s. Here’s the song lane called – Rum and Coca Cola. It’s got a nice caribean beat with a fairly caustic message…

Rum And Coca Cola [Download]

Jesse Yamas’ Lose It All

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

I found

Jessie Yamas through her work on Earl Pickens new record. She’s got one song available on her website and no releases yet so no pressure today to buy anything. Download and Enjoy! Just file her name in the back of your brain for future consideration.Lose It All [Download]

I’ve got a crush on you theme!? (updated Teenage Fanclub) (contest over)

Sunday, June 26th, 2005

Since my Jolene post was somewhat of a success here’s the next song theme post. This is the start of what I expect will be a complete list of crush songs. We’ll make it a contest for kicks. Winner get’s a free cd. 3 points if “crush” is in the title. 2 point if “crush” appears in the song (no “orange crush” songs please just romantic crush songs). 1 point if it’s somewhat related to the theme but the word “crush” doesn’t appear (like Hello Saferide’s “High School Stalker”). This last one will be up to my discretion.
I’m winning 7 to nothing….get cracking. Leave your “crush” songs in the comments – links to the mp3′s are much appreciated.

Jason has catapulted into second place with his suggestion of Je T’aime (moi non plus) by Serge Gainbourg here performed by Donna Summer (courtesy of Dr Drak’s eclectic french blog)

I don’t need much of an excuse to put a song up by The Eels. That it fits perfectly with the theme is a bonus. “Jeannie’s Diary” is about one man’s hope to be on just one page of a girls diary. Also Sebadoh’s “Willing To Wait”. Thanks to Trill 42 who has rocketed into first place.
Howard from Spamnet, Last Sound of Summer and Lonesome Music came through at the last minute with the Teenage Fanclub version of Kylie’s Got A Crush On Us. Not enough to win but darn impressive. The winner of the contest is Trill 42 for the sheer number of recommendions and for sending links to The Eels and Sebadoh.
You may have to fill in the song title and .mp3

Ally Kerr – Someone’s Got A Crush On MeCorey Branan – CrushHello Saferide – Highschool StalkerDonna Summer – Je T’aime (moi non plus)The Eels – Jeannie’s DiarySebadoh – Willing To WaitTeenage Fanclub – Kylie’s Got A Crush On Us [Download]

Go Kart Mozarts – Tearing Up The Album Charts (ex Felt, Denim)

Saturday, June 25th, 2005

I get the feeling that Felt was a band you either loved or loved even more. I’ve never met any detractors or haters. The lead singer and the main person responsible for Felt (and Denim btw) is Lawrence. His newish project/band is called Go Kart Mozart. The new release is called Tearing Up The Album Charts and is just being released in the States by Darla.

Sadly I don’t have that new record yet. But I’ve got links to mp3′s off Go Kart Mozarts debut and a sample of a track off the new one so that will have to suffice for now. This brief sampling from Tearing Up … has an oh so slight resemblance to early Felt. Get it now from Darla. Pick up the bands debut Instant Wigwam and Igloo Mixture from the Spanish label Elefant.Here Is A SongDrinkin Um Bongo [Download]

Sample off of 2005′s Tearing Up….

?? [Download]

Earl Pickens’ "Country Music Jukebox"

Friday, June 24th, 2005

Is that a great country name or what? Good thing Earl left punk rock behind and morphed into a young country singer with serious potential. Sounding like a croonier Lyle Lovett or countrified Roy Orbison,

Earl Pickens new disc and his debut as a singer-wrongwriter is called Country Music Jukebox.Here’s two song from that new release due out July 19. I like it and you will too. Buy it now from Earl Pickens here.Moon You Know WhyIf I Could Sing Like That [Download]

The Shine Cherries (New EP for fans of Jessie Sykes, Victoria Williams and Edith Frost)

Thursday, June 23rd, 2005

The Shine Cherries have just released their debut record on Little Kiss Records (Nels Andrews, Foma). Little Kiss took a very small risk in sending this to me since it encompasses many of my favorite musical components. Namely the dry sound of the southwest, slow, slow twang and beautiful, yet childlike, female vocals. For fans of Jessie Sykes, Nora O’Connor, Edith Frost or the closest comparison Victoria Williams.
This is a six song ep so I’ll only post links to two songs, buy it here for only six bucks and while you’re there pick up Nels Andrews’ Sunday Shoes.

You Wouldn’t DareFight or Flight [Download]

PS Not to brag but it’s been a great week on Songs:Illinois. Click here to go to the homepage for new music from Salim Nourallah, Let’s Be Honeys, Langhorne Slim and Tom Brosseau).

Kelly Stoltz covers entire Crocodile Lp by Echo And The Bunneymen

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005

If you haven’t heard of Kelly Stoltz yet don’t worry you will soon. He’s been signed to Sub Pop and he will be bringing his guitars, synths and drums to Seattle in the form of his Sub Pop debut sometime in 2006. For starters he’s got some mp3′s from his various limited quanity releases on his homepage.
Kelly Stoltz is one of these guys with a 4-track and a studio apartment. Either by choice or necessity his music is created under these conditions. And as a result it gets labeled lo-fi tinkering. With a full budget and label support he may be relabeled the second coming…we’ll have to wait and see.

All I know for sure is that he has covered, in it’s entirity, the 1980 release Crocodile by Echo and The Bunnymen rechristening it Crockodials and changing it from English pop/rock to American garage rock (think The Doors). The song “Rescue” would be worth the price of admission alone. Here’s that one and a couple others off Crockodials and two from his previous release, Antique Glow. Buy Antique Glow here. Buy Crockodials here.

RescueCrocodile [Download]

Perpetual NightJewel of the Evening [Download]

The Quarter After (what?!) (July 12, Bird Song Recordings/Parasol)

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2005

I first read about The Quarter After on Misery and Mystery (a fine blog btw). The description of the band on this blog piqued my interest as did the two older songs linked to. I contacted the band and got approval to post these two songs off the brand new release.

The Quarter After were described somewhere as dreamy folk pop but my quess is if you have a chance to see them live on their Nationwide tour with Brian Jonestown Massacre you’ll be more apt to hear a mix of ear splitting psychadelia and Who inspired 60′s rock guitar wizardry. The new self-titled debut full length do-hicky will ship in two days from Parasol. You can buy it here.

Know Me When I’m GoneYour Side Is Mine [Download]

Matthew Hebert’s modern take on folk music

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

Matthew Hebert replied promptly to my email for more mp3′s from his debut record so let’s support this mp3 savvy artist by buying his debut. Hebert’s Sugar On The Edge was released June 7 on SpiritHouse Records. Mathew lives in Northhampton, Ma., one of the folk capitols of the world (Joe Pernice, Lou Barlow, Dar Williams) and home of one of the best clubs in the US in the Iron Horse Music Hall.His atmospheric and sluggish take on folk is just right. And it suits his music and deep baritone voice. The song “The Energizer Druggies” sums up our whole prosaic loving nation and our need to “take one to feel good and one to just to feel ok”. Here’s two songs from his debut and two songs that didn’t quite make it. Buy it at Miles Of Music here.The Energizer DruggiesRight Before Love Dies [Download]


Don’t Go Away A Light In The Snow [Download]

Salim Nourallah’s Beautiful Noise (August, Secretely Canadian/Western Vinyl)

Tuesday, June 21st, 2005

Western Vinyl is probably my favorite very small label. They release music that is either off the beaten track or that should be on the beaten track and unfortunately isn’t. Salim Nourallah is an example of a band that should be everywhere but is probably just too good to get mass acceptance (like The Eels, Chuck Prophet etc).
Salim’s new record comes out in August on Western Vinyl/Secretly Canadian. Salim has a few of these for sale on his website (under 30 left) so if you want to get it early and support the artist buy from here. Salim is one half of the Nourallah Brothers (MP3′s) and together they have produced some of the best work of the dacade (I’m not kidding and KCRW agree’s naming the double cd reissue of Nourallah Brothers one of the top 5 for the decade). Salim’s music is emotionally resonating, powerful, textured pop. His voice has a hint of Jeff Tweedy (so if you’re a Wilco fan now you’re obliged) and is clearly influenced by the Beatles going as far to name his studio Pleasantry Lane (he’s recorded Rhett Miller and The Damnwells among others).

So let’s cut to the chase. I found two songs available from the new record Beautiful Noise: the ballad “The World Is Full Of People (Trying To Hurt You)” and “All Waste”. Salim has an infant and the song “The World…” is his attempt to deal with any parents’ nightmares and concerns about his child being hurt or corrupted in this world of Michael Jackson, missing children and the Catholic Church. It’s powerful, especially in this day and age. Again take this opportunity to buy Beautiful Noise from Salim at his website

here.The World Is Full Of People (Trying To Hurt You) EditAll Waste [Download]

Bonus tracks:

1978 (amazing!!)A Way [Download]

From his band project

Happiness FactorI’d Rather Be Famous [Download]

Langhorne Slim update and 3 more songs

Monday, June 20th, 2005

Are you sick of these artist updates? I’m not. I wrote about

Langhorne Slim and linked to one song of his debut When The Sun’s Gone Done here. I now have the full length advance from Narnack. I can now hear and appreciate his cross pollination of folk, blues and roots music and indie lofi rock.On his debut he channels Buddy Hole, Dylan and early mountain music. Here’s a couple more from Langhorne and the link to buy the record.MaryThe Electric Love LetterBy The Time The Sun’s Gone Down [Download]

The power of the Internet or how to get Let’s Be Honeys 13 songs (recorded June 6) on a thousand ipods

Monday, June 20th, 2005

Let’s Be Honeys is the one man band project of Nils Folke Vandemar (ex Diogenes Musicforce, Soft Spread). He recorded all the instruments and vocals himself and of the 13 songs on Songs Before The Summer Holiday some are covers (“Downtown Trains” by Tom Waits and “Goodnite I Almost Died” by Robote Ate Me), some improvised on the spot (“Tell Me To Shut Up”) and the rest originals.
Nils claims not to be influenced by Belle And Sebastian but admits to listening to their records when he can (particularly when going to sleep – don’t we all!). This is so personal and raw and simple that there aren’t too many other influences to site besides almost everything that’s ever been recorded. The tracks on Songs Before The Summer Holiday that I link to below are all recorded as one long mp3. It’s a pretty amazing listen but you need 35 minutes (15 mbs) and a fast connection to download but it’s totally worth it. If this isn’t a blogging sensation and on a thousand ipods by tonight than I haven’t done my job.

I’ll host this myself for reliability:

Right click and save as song title and .mp3

Songs Before A Summer Holiday [Download]

Bonus track – An even newer song by Nils written June 8th called “Instant Popsong (Just Add Tears)”. Visit Nils’ site for one additional mp3 “Lionheart Remix”)

Instant Popsong [Download]

PS Sometimes it seems like we’re changing the world doesn’t it? Or as Nils sings “we all know pop love might just save the world”…brilliant!