Archive for September, 2005

Orwell’s "In your Playground" from Archipel (Oct 05)

Friday, September 30th, 2005

Sometimes I come across some little gem of song that doesn’t fit, my always in flux, requirements for inclusion on Songs:Illinois. Orwell is just such an instance. They’re French and they rock, actually they pop. I’m loving these songs. Buy the brand new release Archipel on Apricot Records through Tonevender or Darla in the states.


In Your PlaygroundMore AdversaireEverywhere [Download]

The Chrysler’ Failure and Sparks (Galaxy Gramaphone, Oct 18)

Friday, September 30th, 2005

The Chrysler are having their new record released in the US. Their Swedish label Flora and Fauna have licensed their music to the US label Galaxy Gramaphone who now fall under the larger distribution arm of Parasol. Confusing isn’t it? That’s ok at the end of the posts I’ll give you all the relevant links. In Sweden the band is considered country which is way off. In my original post on the band (here) I wrote that they sounded like an acoustic, folk-pop group but even that’s a stretch based on the new record.
Instead, with Failure and Sparks, The Chrysler have taken a gigantic step forward musically. Songs like “This Is Midnight” pay clear homage to the Velvet Underground and the Doors with it’s chorus of “I’m your man, your little white man, who thinks he can run faster than Jesus” while “Damn Staight Evil” features a recorder (?) that’s straight out of the Gorillaz’ first record. Influences are all over the map on this one but taken as a whole the record has an eerie, spooky life of it’s own. Search it out or click here, here, or here to buy it now.


This Is Midnight
Damn Straight Evil

One of 5 bonus cuts only available on the American release
While We’re Here

Why? – Indie folk hip-hop (Anticon, Oct 4)

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

It was not so long ago that we compared one-man, wunderkin bands to Beck or Brian Wilson. Now it seems our collective memory is faulty and instead we only go back a year or less with reference to Devandra, Sufjan, Vanderslice et al. I’m as guilty as the next guy but not for the band Why?, I’m a lot more comfortable comparing Why? to the Becks and Wilsons of the music world. Why? marries the experimentalism and genre jumping of Beck with the overdubbed vocal harmonies and just a little bit of the California sound of the Beach Boys.

The new Why? record, Elephant Eyelashes, comes out in early October on anticon.


Here’s a couple of songs from the new folk-hop-indierock thang. See `em live in Philly on Oct 4, info at R5. Pre-order it here.

Rubber TraitsThe HoofsYo Yo Bye Bye [Download]

From the Sanddollars ep

Sanddollars [Download]

Thomas Denver Jonsson’s Barely Touching It (October 28, Kite) plus links to his duets with Rosie Thomas and Damien Jurado plus music from Ned Oldham)

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

One of my most anticipated Swedish releases of the year is the new record from Thomas Denver Jonsson. This is in part because of his great earlier release, partly because of the special guests on this record and partially because this release has been repeatedly delayed. Now the release date is set in stone and you can pick up Barely Touching It on October 28 from Kite Recordings.

Thomas emailed with links to two of the new songs on the record and they each feature a special guest. “Dreams At The Film” comes complete with harmony vocals provided by Swedish pop star Nina Kinert (her own V2 new release is due out October 26) while Silverboy features Ned Oldham. “Silverboy” updates the classic Neil Young sound with just the right mix of feedback laden guitar solos and yearning mournfull vocals. While “Dreams…” has a more ethereal, dreamlike sound (natch) with Nina Kinart’s vocals shimmering and fluttering in and around Thomas’ quivering pinched vocals.

I wrote about Thomas Denver Jonsson way back here and linked to his songs from his first record (duets with Rosie Thomas (Sub Pop) and Damien Jurado). I don’t know of a way to buy Barely Touching It yet, we all have to wait until October 28th but bookmark this page this one or this one and return at the alloted time with cash in hand.

SilverboyDreams At The Film Club [Download]

Bonus mp3′s from Ned Oldham’s Anomoanom

From 2005′s Joji

Mr Train [Download]

From debut

Little Birdy [Download]

Canasta’s upcoming debut "We Were Set Up" (November)

Wednesday, September 28th, 2005

Chicago has it’s fair share of chamber pop. I could even see myself stretching things a bit and saying it could be the capitol of this gorgeous subgenre of music. I can’t name all the Chicago chamber pop bands but I will say that with Scotland Yard Gospel Choir breaking out last year and now Canasta on the cusp of national acclaim that may be enough to put us in the hunt. Canasta has completed it’s debut record, We Were Set Up, and plans a November release. Unitl then the band has put three full length mp3′s up to sample and also has some copies available on their site for pre-order right now.

“Slow Down Chicago” sounds like an outake from Sufjan Stevens new record. With it’s chorus of “From the corner of State and Madison I cried, `Chicago slow down’, a few folks glanced over but none broke their stride, that’s when I vowed `this town breathes on it’s own with or without me…’” it may even “get” Chicago better than any of the songs on Illinois. Guests on the record include various members of Poi Dog Pondering, The Coctails, and Edith Frost. The record was produced by Ted Cho (Poi dog, Palaxy Tracks). They have recently played with Kinsgury Manx and Sloan in Chicago and CYHSY in Madison. So don’t be shy, believe the hype and pre-order this here for $10 and be the first on your block to have We Were Set Up a month early.


Slow Down ChicagoShadowcatImposters [Download]

Here’s some seriousely fine bonus tracks, a couple from their sold out debut EP Find The Time and some odd rarities

Two If By SeaChance At Greatness [Download]


Major TomTom’s Diner [Download]

The Spares mini hit "Mexico"

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

The Spares are a Chicago alt-country duo who recently had their music on WXRT which is like the holy grail of comercial radio. Their new record Hand Me Down is pretty stripped down, blues-based, roots music. The singer, Jodee Lewis, hits all the right notes and guitarist Steve Hendershot clearly knows his way around stringed instruments with National guitar, dobros and mandolins all showing up in the mix.

Buy the new disc here and check out this Chicago group this Thursday Sept. 29 at The Abbey Pub (8pm, $8).

Mexico On Demand [Download]

The Roulette Sisters (1st in a string of posts on old timey music updated)

Tuesday, September 27th, 2005

I’ve been sitting on The Roulette Sisters, not literally, I think they’re safe in NYC. But I bookmarked `em a long time ago and then they just sat. So I’m in the middle of a spring (I can dream, can’t I?) computer cleaning and it’s time to spin that wheel. The other bit of impetus I’ve got to share them with you is the one item of news on their site and that is that Laura Cantrell played their record on her WFMU show Radio Thrift Shop the other day. I like it when a band gets all geeked up about being on WFMU since it is my favorite station and one of the best in the country.

Here’s three songs from their debut record Nerve Medicine. Buy it here.

Coney Island WashboardLovin SpoonfulLoan Me [Download]

Songs Illinois/Swedesplease Mix #1

Sunday, September 25th, 2005

I don’t normally do this but I’ve been loving some of the songs lately on SI and Swedesplease. So here’s a mix of the latest/greates songs from the past couple of weeks.

Living The Dream – Chris MillsSunday Morning – Los DiablosSomewhere There Is A Girl (Or Boy) – Bobby BabyFroggy Went A Courting – CankickersLouden Up Pretty – The SonnetsLast Night When I Was Jimmy White – Don AgbaiGood Company – Martha BernerSkywriters – Nicole AtkinsOil In The Fields Paul DuncanWe’re From Barcelona – I’m From BarcelonaHarness and Wheel – Kingsbury ManxGet Sick Soon – Hello Saferide1972 – PorchsleepersGimme Indie – The HartmansThe Stupidest Thing – Shade TreeSoul [Download]
– A Healthy White Baby

What are the best three mp3 blogs? (Farewell to Uncommon Folk and Fire of Love…plus music from Arbouretum)

Saturday, September 24th, 2005

Two very good blogs have retired this past month. The first (Uncommon Folk) burnt brightly for only six months but in that time reviewed dozens of records with such insight and depth that it put other blogs to shame. Another unique thing about Uncommon Folk was it’s singlemindedness, who knew there was so much psych-folk, neo-folk or experimental-folk out there. Well, now we know and we’re better off for it. I’ll try in my small way to keep my ears open for this unusual, compelling music and share it with readers of Songs:illinois as much as possible

The other blog we lost, Fire of Love (sorry link already gone), was written by a Swede in good standing. Fire of Love was all over the map but his selections always made sense. And more often than not I was mad at FOL for beating me to the punch or usurping some of my Swedish terrain. I looked at both of these blogs/bloggers as friends and potential friendly competitors and I’m sorry to see them go. Get on over to their sites now before files start disappearing. I wish them both the best of luck in their other endeavors.

With all of that said and hopefully not sounding too crass…who should replace them on my blogroll? What are the best new mp3 blogs? Is there some classic blog that’s been around for years (probably only 3 at the most) that I should add? In short what do you think are the best three blogs (I’ll take Songs:Illinois and Swedesplease out of the running but thanks for thinking of me, really!?).

In honor of Uncommon folk and because I can’t do a post without the obligatory mp3′s here’s a couple from the band Arbouretum. If you like what you hear you can buy their debut release, Long Live The Well-Doer, here.

People Flock Not To The GoodAll That Will Be Has Become, All That Has Come Isn’t Gone [Download]

Josh Lederman y Los Diablos (Nine Mile Records, Aug 23)

Saturday, September 24th, 2005

Josh Lederman y Los Diablos is todays pick to brighten up things around here. The name of the band is exotic; the band is not. In fact their website states they are the kings of Irish-Jewish folk punk. That makes `em one-half Pogues and one-half TMBG. Not a bad combo is it?

The new record, Let’s Waste Another Evening, came out August 23rd and while I’ve only had these two mp3′s for a couple of days (thanks toRick at Nine Mile Records) I’m already smitten. The mixture of irish waltzes, roots rock and Josh’s Poguesesque vocals make this band very enticing. Buy the record here now!

Sunday MorningWaltzing Ladies [Download]

Cankickers kick around bluegrass/punk/folk on new record Mountain Dudes

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

Cankickers are a band that look to be made up of scruffy punk bike messengers. That they make a bizarre version of bluegrass, appalachian music and old Irish fiddle tunes should come as no surprise to readers of this blog as this style of music being played by young musicians certainly seems to be a trend.

I have no firsthand knowledge of the band although they will be touring the midwest in a couple of months to support their new record Mountain Dudes. Hopefully I’ll track them down and have a sweaty good time and maybe a Guiness or two. Here’s two from the new record and then some back catalog (you’re gonna love “Froggy Went a Couting”). Buy their stuff

here.Froggy Went a CourtingDingus Day [Download]

Back Catalog

Arkansas TravellerOh Death [Download]

Chris Mills’ new record The Wall To Wall Sessions (Ernest Jenning Record Co, Oct. 4)

Friday, September 23rd, 2005

As always I discovered some little gem that throws my whole posting schedule right out the window. The morsel I’m referring to is a new song off of the October release by NYC, by way of Chicago, artist Chris Mills. The release has already garnered some big time press in his hometown of Chicago, including reviews/interviews with The Reader and Sun Times. Both are a fascinating reads on how to record an album with a 17 piece orchestra on the cheap.

Chris mills reminds me most of Chris Stamey. Both are excellent singers, guitarists, and pop geniuses who can compose songs to fit any mood. The new record features Kelly Hogan, Nora O’Connor, Dave Max Crawford (from Poi Dog Pondering), Susan Voelz (from Giant Sand) and cellist Fred Lomberg-Holm. Chris Mills’ new disc, The Wall To Wall Sessions, comes out Oct 4 on Ernest Jenning Record Co. The label has just put up the song below as a teaser. I’m officially teased! Pre-order it here.

Living the Dream [Download]

A couple of songs about Katrina (and soon for Rita too)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

I haven’t made any mention of Hurricane Katrina but that’s not to say the Hurricane and it’s aftermath haven’t affected me or my family. While I’m a good Democrat I just can’t get with all of the conspiracy theories about this Hurricane. I think this was a case of our government’s bureacratic inadequacies and not it’s latent racism/classism.

With that said here’s a great song about a Levee. Music is always a great way to deal with this event, especially all the musicians and artists contributing time and goods to the cause (Will Kimbrough sent his favorite Fender guitar to a musician in NO). The Cyrus Clarke Band‘s new record is called California Stories but this song has more of a Louisiana vibe.

Levee Blues [Download]

Here’s a bonus song written within the last week or so by someone I wrote about in the past here. Andrew Gregory’s “Song For New Orleans”. Visit Andrew’s page here.

Song For New OrleansJust By The Way That She Moved [Download]

Also another released today by Mayapple Records, a truly great rootsy label from Missouri. It’s from a group of Mayapple allstars and written and sung by Erik Leick, whose debut record should be out soon on Mayapple.

Priorities [Download]

Martha Berner’s sumptious new record This Side Of Yesterday (Machine Records, Oct 15)

Thursday, September 22nd, 2005

Ok I have a new object of my affection, musically speaking of course (although she is a fox). Martha Berner is readying her proper solo debut record for an October 15 release date. The record is called This Side of Yesterday. Her labels got a press quote saying this is “a joyous marriage of American folk, alt-country and indie rock”. But I hear more the well-produced sound of singer songwriters like the European artists Emiliani Torrini and Marth Tilston or American artists like Dar Williams and Shawn Colvin.

The three songs given away free on her labels’ website leave you wanting only more, you won’t be satiated by these three gems. Luckily you can preorder this October release on Machine Records here.

Lady Of PlentyMary LatelyGood Company [Download]

Martha Berner was in a band called Friends of Howard here’s two bonus songs from that 2004 release also available through Machine Records at the links above.

Fantastic OrdinaryDear Franklin [Download]

Nicole Atkins’ spellbinging song Skywriters

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005

Another NYC gal found through The Deli. This one song from her new record is one of the catchiest things lolling around in my iPod.

It’s reminiscent of oh so many 0ther bands and songs that I can’t put my finger on anything in particular. It’s only one song but it’s enough.

“Skywriters” by Nicole Atkins is worth the price of admission alone, so I’m guessing the record it came off, Party’s Over, is well worth picking up here.

You can download two more songs on her MySpace page.

Skywriters [Download]

Click here to return to theSongs:Illinois mainpage with new music from Hello Saferide, Richmond Fontaine, Paul Duncan and Kingsbury Manx.

Introducing…Hello Saferide debut cd out in days, preview two songs here now (Razzia Records, September 28)

Wednesday, September 21st, 2005

The new Hello Saferide is out in a couple of days in Sweden (Razzia, Sept 28). The new record, her debut, is called Introducing…Hello Saferide. It features the single (with a video…woo-hoo!) “If I don’t write this song, someone I know will die”. In general, from the little I’ve heard, the production has been raised a notch with overdubbed backing vocals, horns, and an all around fuller sound. But her by now trademark vocals and offbeat pop lyrics are still very much in eveidence making this my most anticpated record of the year. Her last few songs were an internet sensation written about here, here, here, here, and here. Said The Gramaphone featured her as a guest blogger as well here. Annika will be touring with a full band to recreate the sound on this record.

Razzia Records was kind enough to send me two of the songs on the record so I will share them with you. Of course show `em that you care by pre-ordering the record here.

Get Sick SoonIf I don’t write this song, someone I love will die [Download]

Songs from Paul Duncan’s amazing forthcoming record on Hometapes (Nov. 05)

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

I was going to do a post on the HomeTapes label just because they get it. I received an email that was sent out specifically to bloggers with mp3′s from new and upcoming releases. I was sure from what I’d heard that it would be good stuff but I was more than pleasantly surprised by the quality/beauty of one of their upcoming releases by Paul Duncan.

Paul Duncan is a 26 year old living in Brooklyn, Home Tapes was actually created to put out his 2003 debut To An Ambient Hollywood. Now his followup is scheduled for early Novemeber but you can preorder it now and get it in your hot little hands at the end of October.

I guess Paul’s been compared to Jim O’Rourke, Talk Talk and Brian Eno but you could just as easliy compare him to any one of the many lofi heroes of the moment. Order Be Careful What You Call Home from HomeTapes now here. From the little I’ve heard from the new record with it’s electronic flourishes, instrumental experimentation and epic, poetic, lyrical content this is an artist and a release to search out. Here’s two from the new record, one from his debut and two unreleased songs.

In A WayOil In The Fields [Download]

From his debut

Letdownville [Download]

Unreleased tracks

So Sick Of the SunBlue Tusks [Download]

Kingsbury Manx – songs from the new record out today and catch them live tonight in Chicago

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

Why did the Shins pop like they did? Can anyone explain this to me. I love them as much as the next guy but what is it about certain bands that make them takeoff in our community. The Shins, The Decemberists, Sufjan Stevens, Arcade Fire, and others have made a leap beyond simply indie rock stardom and have crossed over to the main society’s culture. The answer is probably a thousand different factors and a ton of pure luck.

Kingsbury Manx could/should be in the same league as some of the bands mentioned above. Their brand of soft, indie folk-pop is all the rage. The band tours and records for a label that can support all their aspirations. I for one am hoping their new record, The Fast Rise and Fall Of The South (Yep Roc, Sept 20) will be the one to expose them to a larger audience.

In the bands bio Yep Roc even name-drops The Shins, The Radar Bros, Calexico and Wilco and each in there own way is an apt comparison. Buy The Fast… here through Yep Roc; it goes on sale today. Catch the band tonight (Tuesday) in Chicago at Beat Kitchen on Belmont.

What A ShameHarness And Wheel [Download]
**Standout Track**

From 2003′s Aztec Discipline

Pelz KometGrape To Grain [Download]

Porchsleepers’ 1972 (plus Cole Guerra’s album Knives and Scarves out today)

Tuesday, September 20th, 2005

I’m a sucker for name songs with titles like Maybeline, Angeline or just plain old Sarah Jane. I’m also a sucker for songs about a certain year or songs that mention a year. I think it’s one cool way a band can get on the same level as it’s audience as we all have lived through the same years albeit in different circumstances.

The latest song with a year in the title is 1972 by the Porchsleepers. This is not a cover of 1972 by Josh Rouse nor does it rival Salim Nourrallah’s 1978, but I like the band and the song brings back memories (not really I was only 4). It addresses the current state of radio with lines like “they’ve got just one channel and they’re making it clear, they’ve got no intention of playing what we want to hear”. This and the two songs below are off their 2005 self titled record. You can buy it at Miles Of Music here (it’s a 100% Guaranteed)

1972 [Download]

Better This WayGarage [Download]

Salim Nourrallah’s

1978 [Download]


A lot of blogs do a very good job of notifying us about all the important releases available each an every Tuesday. I’m thinking primarily of Large Hearted Boy whose weekly post “Today’s Shopping Bag” is always an essential read. But even his list is not all inclusive.

For instance today see’s the release of the second record from Cole Guerra on Cleave Records. I wrote about this release here. It’s essential listening and the song “Green” below is a good example of his Elvis Costello meets REM pop.

Green [Download]

My almost Gogol Bordello post

Monday, September 19th, 2005

I always wanted to do a Gogol Bordello post. Eastern European gypsy punk is fascinating to me and very danceable btw. The problem was The Big Ticket was all over this story from day one, so instead I bring you a band in the same vein who has opened for GB. The band is Devotchka!

Their new record is called How It Ends and can be purchased here. I’ve got one song from this record plus a live VU cover from their impossible to get live debut record.

Such A Lovely Thing [Download]

Venus In Furs [Download]

Oh what the heck here’s Gogol Bordello. The last song I posted had the url stolen so here’s attempt #2.

Sally [Download]