Archive for August, 2005

fans of my folk, alt-country, and americana posts please look away

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Stumbled upon another free and legal download fvrom the NY based band Hopewell’s new record (June, Tee Pee). Wrote about em here first. I’ve got nothing more to say. Oh yeah except that they’re a Mercury Rev spinoff, now I’m out.

Sugar in The Honey [Download]

A few mysterious gems from I Wish I Was Unpopular

Wednesday, August 31st, 2005

Hey there’s a couple of amazing little gems out now on the art/music/words zine (and label) site I Wish I Was Unpopular. Of the three new releases the most dreamy and catchy is that by Electrum from Edinburgh (who are a duo comprised of members of slowloris).

InterferenceArmy of Me [Download]

Coming in a close second and third are releases by the mysterious bands Blind Cowboys and Monster Bobby. Blind Cowboys is an odd little piece of psych-rock (mercury rev, flaming lips and radar bros) while Monster Bobby is pure sweet bubblegum pop slowed down 1/3 and sung just a little too deeply by the lead singer.

Blind Cowboys –

MaybeMonster Bobby – The Burning Ambition of Early Diuretics [Download]

The Muggs from Detroit (more garage rock continued from yesterday)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

I was on a garage rock kick a few months ago and until my idea for a third blog (Two Car Garage) becomes a reality I’ll have to continue adding garage rock to the mix at Songs:illinois. Times Beach Records is an eclectic label that is hq’d in Detroit. So you’d expect them to do their fair share of garage bands and they do. None bigger and better (and dirtier) than The Muggs.

The Muggs have just released their self titled debut record. The band has encountered it’s fair share of heartbreak especially when the bassist had a near fatal stroke. He now plays base using his left hand and a Fender Rhodes organ. They are apparently amazing live and have the balls to say they are Detroits best loved band (and the ugliest). Here’s a bunch of songs from both their website and Times Beach.

Gonna Need My HelpNeed Ya BabyMonster [Download]

Roger Dean Campbell (Copperspine/Loose, October 2005)

Tuesday, August 30th, 2005

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating, until Steve Earl has his second (or third) great comeback there is a void in the music world that needs to be filled. Hayes Carll (here), Earl Pickens (here) and Chris Scruggs (here and here) have done their darndest but now it’s Roger Dean Young’s turn. In the US he records for Copperspine Records in the UK for Loose Records.

Loose has got one mp3 available from his September/October release and it’s a doozie. Roger Dean Young & Tin Cup as a band are a large collective of Vancouver players from a number of diverse genre’s from Appalachian old time to classical, and Latin jazz to Arabian. “Slider” is the song released from the new record Casa. The song starts with silence and creeps towards a whisper (with only acoustic guitar for accompaniment) and finally builds to a horn-laden, genuinely original sound.

Slider [Download]

The Detroit Cobra’s (Bloodshot, Sept. 27)

Monday, August 29th, 2005

I was in a little garage rut a couple of months back. I thought I was free and clear and totally recuperated but the new release by The Detroit Cobra’s on Bloodshot has dragged me back in.

Baby has a release date of Sept 27 but Bloodshot in all it’s wisdom has put up a teaser track from this disc. “I Wanna Holler (but the town’s too small)” seems to capture all the energy this band is known to possess as well as showing it’s more soulful side.

This is the one band that can bridge the two worlds of Motown and Detroit Rock City. The new record was produced by Greg Cartright of Reigning Sound so you know it’s gonna be beaut.

Here’s that track and a link to their page on Bloodshot so you can snap up Baby when it’s released on Sept 27.

I Wanna Holler (but the town’s too small) [Download]

Orso adds song to Hinah’s tribute to Anthology of American Folk Music

Monday, August 29th, 2005

Orso is a band that has been around in various shapes and configurations since 1998. The band is led by Phil Spirito and over the years has featured musicians from Califone, Rex, him and Herculoneum. The band creates an exprimental folk music that is both otherwordly and at the same time informed by the worlds of classical, indian and traditional american folk music.

Hinah’s quest is a noble one and an enormous feat. When they have time and when the right artist come along (usually through their studios in France) they will have these artists record one song off of the famous early American folk compilation Anthology of American Folk Music (84 songs total). I have posted links to previous bands’ takes on these songs and will hopefully continue to do so till the project is complete or until I’m too old, greying and deaf.

Here’s Orso with a member of califone (this time the song was actually recorded in Chicago in the summer of 05). It’s “Adieu False Heart”.

Adieu False Heart [Download]

Bonus track or two from Orso

Loaded For Bear [Download]

Germany’s Monta (thanks to Tom – a reader from Austria)

Sunday, August 28th, 2005

I haven’t written about a German band yet to the best of my knowledge. Germany is home to one of the great record labels in Glitterhouse so there must be fans of great music there; people who are buying and absorbing challenging, eclectic music. One of Songs:Illinois’ readers recommended I check out Monta. Well I did and I like (love) it.

There is no hint of a german accent or what you might expect from German music (polka, industrial noise, dance music or glam metal!). Instead Tobbias’ Kuhn has produced a disc that would be welcome in any US college radio station and you would think on many an mp3 blog. The song “This Is My Life”, from 2004′s Where Circles Begin, starts with a long instumental section and for a minute you think the song may be going nowhere but then the softly sung vocals kick in, next what sounds like an organ and finally electric guitar and by the end you’re humming along to a song that started out as one type of thing (odd folk) and turned into something else entirely (?).

This Is My LifeLong Live The Quiet [Download]

Flavor Crystals’ On Plastic

Saturday, August 27th, 2005

Sometimes the music I find on the web doesn’t fit in any neatly defined category. It’s not quite right for my site but I want to make it fit anyway.

The band Flavor Crystals is a great example. Their spacey, dreamy rock just sounds great. I’d like to throw the terms folk, alt-country or americana in to their description somwewhere to make ‘em fit Songs:Illinois but I can’t.

For those are fans of Flotation Toy Warning, Bulit Like Alaska, Flaming lips, Mercury Rev or Radar Bros. you now have a new band to follow. Click here to buy their debut disc On Plastic.

PooljaCheckerboard [Download]

**Double Post** Daniel Lanois’ Belladonna on Anti- Records and Bedroom Walls’ EP A Species Of Idleness

Friday, August 26th, 2005

Daniel Lanois has done just about everything in music, from producing the biggest U2 records to his own critically acclaimed solo records. He’s a major force in the business. So I guess I shouldn’t be surprised by his newest project; an instrumental record awash in atmospherics and his own pedal steel guitar.

Joining him on Belladonna are Malcolm Burn, Brad Mehldau and Brian Blade. This is the type of record you should really hear in one sitting. There’s not one standout track or certainly not a radio single but the songs flow together as one. Nontheless here’s two from Belladonna. Buy it here from Anti-Records (Tom Waits, Joe Henry, Neko Case).

OaxacaFrozen [Download]


Bedroom Walls is almost sold out of their self-released, limited edition ep A Species of Idleness. I’ve written about them in the past and just can’t get enough of their baroque pop (they coined the term Romanticore to describe their sound). If you want one of the 10 that are left you’d better act fast. You can say you knew them when…since they are about to sign with an indie label. Here’s two songs from the ep. Buy it here.

Overnight LowsYour Idea Of A Holiday [Download]

Hobotalk – Don’t skip this post!

Friday, August 26th, 2005

Hobotalk is one of many bands that have been dropped by huge multinational labels in Hobotalk’s case it was asked to leave a 5 album deal on Virgin after their critically acclaimed debut didn’t sell. Fortunately for the band they have been signed to Germany’s premier label – Glitterhouse Records.

When I say “the band” I really mean the main force behind the band-Mark Pillay from Scotland. His vocal delivery and song structure have been compared to Neil Young, Tim Hardin and most often to Nick Drake. His new record (Glitterhouse, June 05) is called Notes On Sunset (Glitterhouse, June 05) and was recorded in an old Scottish church with minimal interference, overdubs or compression. Here’s a beatiful song from Notes.

Little Light [Download]

Plus some new acoustic songs exclusively available on his website.

It Might Not Be Too LateI’ll Arrive [Download]

If you’re in love (like me) – you can buy the record through Glitterhouse and also get one more new song by signing up for Hobotalk’s newsletter on his site.

River Detectives’ King Of The Ghost Ride

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

Neon Tetra Records have released the new record from The River Detectives, a Scottish band that plays a nice brand of folk-rock. The new record King Of The Ghost Ride features members of Van Morrisons backing band and was produced by Duncan Cameron (Travis, Teenage Fanclub etc) in Glascow.

Here’s the title track. Buy it here from Neon Tetra.

King Of The Ghost Ride [Download]

Neon Tetra is a new label and while their website could use a little work, the bands that they’ve signed do not. I discovered the label a few months back with their release of Ally Kerr’s record Calling Out To You and the song “Someone’s Got A Crush On Me”. Now I’ve been sent a second track from Ally Kerr’s. The second song from All Kerr’s debut full length is the sad but bright and poppy song “All Alone Again”.

All Alone Again [Download]

In case you missed it the first time…

Someone’s Got A Crush On Me [Download]

New song from Canada’s Hidden Cameras (Absolutely Kosher, October) (plus solo music from Gentleman Reg)

Thursday, August 25th, 2005

I see lots of people writing about the bands on Absolutely Kosher. I suspect the reason for this is a mix of great music and great marketing (yes there is marketing in indie rock – lots of it). Well now I’m going to join the herd and write about an upcoming release by The Hidden Cameras called The Arms Of His “Ill” Ltd 10″ (due October 2005). I’m intrigued by the band because of the semi-serious stance they take about their music. In one interview I read the lead singer tried to correct the writer’s interpretation of one of his songs (the song, according to the singer, was about people peeing together in the cold and then climbing their frozen pee to heaven).

That someone can use pee as a metaphor is fairly impressive. That they can fit into a 4 minute lo-fi pop song is bordering on genius. It’s hard not see the similarities between this band and Arcade Fire; both from Canada and both at times are large ensembles using an array of instruments. In fact members of this band do indeed play with Arcade Fire and Broken Social Scene, band members also have successfull solo careers. In particular Gentleman Reg has a release on Three Gut Records (bonus mp3′s from his record below – they’re great btw!). Anyway here’s a song from the October release by The Hidden Cameras on Absolutely Kosher.

In The Union Of Wine [Download]

Gentleman Reg bonus tracks

It’s Not SafeGive Me A Chance To Fall [Download]


Boyfriend Song

The Waco Brothers still relevant after all these years?!

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

I did a cursory glance at all of the mp3 blogs in the universe (actually just a quick search of and found no one talking about the new record by The Waco Brothers. Freedom and Weep is the new cd from The Waco Brothers on Bloodshot Records. Is this just too obvious? Are they passe? Is the band, that basically used to be the English socialist punk group The Mekons, over the hill?

Jon Langford (Mekons, Pine Valley Cosmonauts) is the leader of this woozy, boozy unapalogetic bunch. This time the record covers topics as topical as christians dismantling democracy, time slipping away and the feeling that we are all just pawns in some bigger, elusive game. Here’s two from Freedom and Weep, buy it here now.

How Fast The TimeNothing At All [Download]


Fox River [Download]
(from Electric Waco Chair)

Added bonus here’s Bloodshot’s newest signing, Detroit’s The Deadstring Brothers. Nice to see Bloodshot rading the talent from our sister city. With The Deadstrings Brothers you get a little more Stones/Kinks thrown into their alt-country and a little less Cash/Haggard. Here’s two from their debut on Times Beach.

Entitled27 Hours [Download]

Said The Gramaphone is back with it’s “Said The Guests” series. Prominent band leaders and sing-songwriters comment on the bands that mean something to them. This month it’s Will Sheff from Okerville River and Shearwater who does an expert job of exploring the music of Tim Hardin.

Joel Plaskett says La De Da (plus Peter Elkas)

Wednesday, August 24th, 2005

Joel Plaskett gained some fame and fortune in the mid 90′s as his band Thrush Hermit hit the bigtime. I can’t say I ever heard of them but I have heard of some of his Halifax cohorts like Sloan and jale. But that doesn’t matter, from what I’ve heard of Joel Plaskett on his new record La De Da (import only on MapleMusic) I don’t really care what came before.

Now living in Arizona, Joel revisits his past on songs which bookend his new album La De Da. “Absentminded Melody” and “Happen Now” blend together to make one song about his beginnings in Halifax. I love how his voice breaks up hitting the high notes and the gentle fingerpicking of the one minute plus opening track “Absentminded Melody”. And then I like how the band kicks in on “Happen Now”. It’s back to a gently sung ballad for the closer “Love This Town”. It’s more of a homecoming really as he revisits all his old haunts/friends. Here’s a perfect self-reverential couplet:

“I shot the shit with miniature tim, if he needs a tune I’ll write one for him
we like the same books and we like the same sounds
there’s a reason why I love this town

I played a show in Colona last year
picture one hand clapping then picture half that sound
there’s a reason I hate that town”

Absentminded Melody/Happen NowLove This Town [Download]

Bonus track by a friend of Joel Plaskett. Peter Elkas makes a soulful noise, his 2003 EP Party Of One was sited by Ron Sexsmith as one of his favorites of the year. Makes sense too cause you can hear Sexsmith and also Martin Sexton in Peter’s songs. Here’s his song “Party of One” from 2004′s full length by the same name. (Maple Music)

Party Of One [Download]

P.S. Check out Swedesplease, not to toot my own horn but the music has been excellent of late. Particularly Blood Music, Happy Couples, The Drawbacks and today’s post on the new EP by The Flu (and their cover of The Hive’s “Hate To Say I Told You So”).


Tuesday, August 23rd, 2005

I’m all about helping to get independent labels a little promo; as long as it fits my selfish musical needs. Despite their name The Fembots do not make electro-euro trash, nor are they a new robot inspired, indie-rock band. Instead (at least on this song) they create a lilting, rollicking brand of americana with piano, guitar and emotive vocals.

The band itself started as a duo and was playing what Paper Bag Records described as “industrial folk”, apparently their early sound was created on protools and consited of electronic textures and an odd assortment of sounds. The word organic has been used to describe their upcoming record The City (the band is from Toronto). I agree with that assessment as it sounds like the duo which started out as a studio creation has evolved into a full fledged band. Here’s a new song off of The City (Paper Bag Records, Sept. 6).

Count Down Our Days [Download]

Dead End JobsSmall Town Murder Scene [Download]
(track the evolution of their sound by checking out these two tracks from their 2003 release Small Town Muder Scene.

Oakley Hall – Oneida’s psych-country brethen

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

Oakley Hall is a countrified spinoff of NY’s noisy Oneida. They record for the small Bulb Records. The lead singer is Patrick Sullivan (one of the founders of Oneida) but the band also relies on Rachel Cox to lend her vocals. There are two songs on the website, presumably from an upcoming record.

First one, “Landlord”, reminds me of the spoken sing-song of Smog with a killer backing band. It’s got a quasi historical lyrical bent that is reminiscent of The Decemberists. While the second has a completely different feel with Rachel Cox on vocals (more Sonic Youth with Kim Gordon singing than the Wilco or Smog of “Landlord”. Amazon has their first self titled disc on sale. Their second, Second Guessing, should be out soon (I’ve emailed the band so hopefully I’ll have an update and a link for it soon).

LandlordEyes, Lock and Steel [Download]

****Don’t forget to check out my three favorite records from the last few months here.

****Plus I’m in the unfortunate but welcome position of being linked to by many other mp3blogs with new one’s turning up daily. I can’t reasonably link to all of them so every other week or so I’ll point you in the direction of one of these sites. Add them to your bookmarks….they’re great. First up is Shake Your Fist They’ve got eclectic taste and in recent days have linked to The Silver Jews, The Go-Betweens and Spoon.

Top three from July August (Rachel Ries, Steve Dawson, Tom Brosseau)

Monday, August 22nd, 2005

August is creeping towards an early exit. I suppose something could come out in the next week or so that could alter my opinion but for now here’s a recap (with new music!) of my top 3 artists from this month. In no particular order.

First is Rachel Ries, whose new record For You Only comes out August 23 on Waterbug Records. Here’s my original review and all I can add is that every time I play her new disc a smile stretches across my face. Rachel’s Chicago record release party is at Schubas on August 27th-I might as well camp out in front (more on that later). Buy it at Amazon.

UnkindYou Only [Download]

Cleveland [Download]

Up next is Steve Dawson’s great solo record Sweet Is the Anchor. Steve Dawson is in the band Dolly Varden and this is his first solo record. It was recorded in each and every room in his old house and it shows (here’s my original post). The warmth and soul that oozes from the digital bits encoded on this cd keep me returning to it over and over again. It’s out on August 28th on Undertow Records. You can pre-order it now from Miles Of Music. Steve Dawson’s Chicago record release party is one night after Rachel Ries’ on August 28th – see you there!?

TemporaryLove Is A Blessing [Download]

Finally, the new record from Tom Brouseau is simply brilliant. I wrote about Tom here first. His new disc is entitled What I Really Meant To Say Is Goodby and is available now for $9 from Loveless Records (which is an incredible price for this 14 track disc).

Jane And LouI Tune My Guitar [Download]

Trying to pick the songs for these three artists has clarified what sets them apart. Mainly because it was impossible; each and every song on these three albums is memorable and should be heard.

Site maintenance – Subscribe to Songs:Illinois (plus a new song from Josh Joplin’s new record)

Sunday, August 21st, 2005

I did something I should have done years ago (no I didn’t buy Nebraska, but maybe I should). Instead I added a number of easy ways for you to add Songs:Illinois to your favorite news reader. Whether you use Kinja, Bloglines or Feedburner I’ve got a way for you to easily add my feed to your list. So just click any of the relevant buttons half way down the right side panel and you’re off.

To get you to read this far I promised a new song by Josh Joplin (who I wrote about back in March here). At the time Josh was putting the finishing touches on Jaywalking and…well…now it’s here. Buy it from Eleven Thirty Records. I found a link to the new song and a demo version of “A Hard Year” (which reminds me of my favorite song from Slaid Cleaves – “One Good Year”).

Mister New Years DayA Hard Year [Download]

Todd Deatherage and the Sixes’ OC ready tunes

Sunday, August 21st, 2005

I saved a couple of songs by Todd Deatherage from CNET a while back. Well they finally popped up on the ol’ pod and I’m smitten. Particularly with the song “Undone”. It’s got a certain punk/pop element that would probably fit on the next Green Day record if they hadn’t gone so politico.

Self referential lines like “you’ve packed my books and all my poppy hooks and moved me out…” are always a favorite of mine. This’ll end up in an upcoming episode of the OC if the producers are as smart as they seem to be.

UndoneOut Of Line [Download]

Cranklin Moth (I know strange name, right?)

Saturday, August 20th, 2005

Thanks to John for pointing me in the direction of Cranklin Moth. They have opened another small door for me into the Chicago scene. Even though I’m a resident Chicagoan, family matters make it so I am still a foreigner to the whole scene. I hadn’t heard of this band in my very own backyard.

Cranklin Moth used to be Known as Redbird, presently they have a Redbird Ep available for sampling on their site but will soon have the disc for sale at their shows as well. Musically the band leans heavily on the pedal steel for creating atmosphere and mood. The lead singer/songwriter has an expressive voice and the lyrics are consistently great. Here’s two from Canklin Moth.

Red BirdOne Little Smile [Download]