Archive for January, 2006

Folk Is The New Black (companion piece to Popsheep’s recent post)

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

(Editors note: normally I wouldn’t post something this late but I hope to follow on the coat tails of
Popsheep’s post of the song “Society’s Child” by Janis Ian. Also quite frankly I’m not thrilled with how this post came out (music’s fine but the writing seems forced when it shouldn’t be.)

On hearing that famous folk artist Janis Ian has a new record coming out on a lark I went to her website. I new that I would come up empty handed in terms of free mp3′s. However I was startled to discover that this baby boomer is also an internet savvy free speech advocate. I knew that her songs in the past could be political but I didn’t expect her to put her money where her mouth was. Long story short Janis Ian’s new record Folk Is The New Black comes out in February, it is her 20th major label release and here is the title track courtesy of Janis Ian herself.

I’d say more about Janis but she’s lived a wild and colorful life and there’s no way I can sum it all up (you may know her as the writer/performer of “Society’s Child”, “Jesse” and her biggest hit “At Seventeen”). Find out more at her website or through All Music here if you’re curious.

Folk Is The New Black [Download]


My Tenessee Hills [Download]
(Duet w/Dolly Parton)

Baby Teeth – For The Heathers EP (Lujo Records, March)

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

Yes, I from Chicago. No, I don’t get out much. In fact Dodge from My Old Ketucky Blog has been to Schubas more times than I have this year. While I didn’t set out to write about bands from Chicago I didn’t mean to short shrift them either. An odd chicago band with a new record out in March is Baby Teeth. How odd you say? Well the main guy used to play with Bobby Conn if that means anything to you. His new band is Baby Teeth and their sophomore release an ep, For The Heathers, is due in March on Lujo Records.

The first song below, “For The Wars”, is straight forward enough if you think David Bowie inspired, piano driven, space-rock about digging holes in the earth is normal. “Heather Via JC” is another matter altogther with it’s Rocky Horror intro that morphs into campy, Roller Derby, disco-funk of the highest order. Think Queen meets Iggy Stardust meets Foreigner! Really!? Buy the ep here now.

For The WarsHeather Via JC [Download]

Spinoffs from Lake Holiday and The Unicorns (courtesy of Said The Gramaphone)

Tuesday, January 31st, 2006

People have been talking about Lake Holiday for a couple of weeks. I’m not sure if they’re flavor of the month or if they’ll stand the test of time. Either way Aaron Booth wrote the song “Wrong Idea” recently covered by Toronto’s Lake Holiday (A. Booth plays bass in the band).

In other Aaron Booth news he recently collaborated with Woodpigeon, the projects called Pigeonbooth naturally. They describe it as:

“2 songs by Aaron Booth
2 songs by Woodpigeon
2 days to record”

It’s lofi folk, “elegy” is a downright beautiful song about a dog (literally).

Closer To The VineEpic Home MovieThe Elegy [Download]

Said The Gramaphone continues his guest blogger series and has expanded it to include visual artists. The art here, by Kit Malo, is slightly disturbing as all great art should be. The accomapnying music by the Unicorns Alden Penner is just sad enough to be a perfect soundtrack.

Delgado flipped the switch and my legs went dead…

Monday, January 30th, 2006

Albumen is a made from an egg and was used to make early photographic prints. The band Albumen has a sound that at times harkens back to an ealier era but at the same time the rythmic qualities of the band are courtesy of drum machines and computers. It’d be nice to sum this band up in a few pithy sentances but they refuse to make it that easy.

I will say that at times the lead singer reminds me of a more forthright Michael Stipe, while the songs (especially “Circle Down”) remind me of Smog or Silver Jews. The brand new record is called Lake Desolation. I love the line in the song “Delagado” where the singer says “But Delgado flipped the switch and my legs went dead and I could feel a little tingling at the back of my neck, but he’s looking kind of worried and scatching his chin, if that bastard runs out of batteries I’m dead.” If you care at all about packaging then you’ll also want to pick this one up, it’s gorgeous and idiosyncratic. Buy it here. Listen to 2 more songs and a video here.

Circle DownDelgado [Download]

Inspired by Luke Top (Grand Gallop, Jan 26)

Monday, January 30th, 2006

Ok. All is right with the world…despite my cynicism displayed in yesterdays post it is still possible to find amazing music on the net. Music that should be spun on the OC, artists that should have guest spots on LoveMonkey and be written about by Fluxblog, Stereogum and Pitchfork (all at once…the trifecta!).

Luke Top is the person who has inspired me today and his new ep Uploading The Sun on Grand Gallop. His cabaret inspired song “Feel So I Am” has shades of Rufus Wainwright and Josh Rouse, it’s lush and has an organic vibe. Purchase here.

Feel So I Am [Download]

Bonus track from the first release on Grand Gallop, the debut solo record by Foreign Born singer Matt Popilliuch, the bands name is Big Search.

You’ll Often Change [Download]

New Music from Garrison Starr off "The Sound of Me and You" (Vanguard, March 14)

Sunday, January 29th, 2006

I like to be the first, or if not the first than one of the first, to cover a band that fits into my spectrum. But as I’ve said in the past it’s getting harder and harder to scoop the ever growing world of mp3 bloggers. My first Band Of Horses post was in May of `05 with links to demo’s from the new record. The promo copies of that record are out now and a quick perusal of the net has about 25 other bloggers all over this one (and rightfully so). But it’s release date is not until March 21, what does that mean for sales of this record? Will all those who heard it between May of 2005 and February of 2006 run out to get it at the end of March? The same is true for Casiotone For The Painfully Alone who also is garnering a lot of blog press this week. I can’t add anything to the discussion on these two bands although I’d like to.

But don’t be dismayed I’ll just have to serve up more of the unhip, unhyped music you’ve come to expect from Songs:Illinois. Garrison Starr was discovered early and had a contract with Geffen records in the late 90′s, she was marketed as a heir apparent to Lucinda Williams but may have more in common with a heartland rocker like Melissa Etheridge (who she has toured with). I don’t hear a lot of twang left in her songs and this makes it even harder to fit her into some niche genre. During one interview she was quoted as saying “There’s really not anybody doing what I’m doing” and she’s not really wrong.

Her new record, her second for Vanguard, comes out on March 14 and is not a big departure for her sonically. The Sound Of You And Me will be hard to market and it will fall through the cracks but it will also find it’s audience both with Garrsion’s hardcore fans and those just introduced to her. Here’s one of her quieter songs. Buy her last record here.

Black and White [Download]

The Swims (again, sort of) (Prison Jazz, Feb 28)

Saturday, January 28th, 2006

(This may look familiar this same post was up a couple days ago. The only problem was the label provided the wrong links, so I took it down. Now it’s been retooled a little bit and the links have been corrected.)

I like the twisted little psych-pop of the band The Swims. Their new record, Ride Of The Bluberry Winter, is due out Feb 28th on Prison Jazz Records.

The label’s sent me two songs to share with you. I’ve listened to them a bunch and can’t make heads or tails of them. I guess that’s the psychadelic California influence playing out. But the band also sites Graham Nash and it’s hard not to see similarities to the Beach Boys (if Brian Wilson had had his say!). The album can be picked up now at the Prison Jazz store here.

We Need LavaVermillion Archer [Download]

Bonus song from 2004 7″

Depth Charge [Download]

Songs from Karl Blau’s Krecs debut – Beneath Waves (Krecs, Jan. 24)

Saturday, January 28th, 2006

Sometimes I find music that normally I wouldn’t post but it’s so damn close to what I like and it was so hard to find (found these mp3′s on his Japanese imprint – 7 e.p. Records) it’s impossible to pass up. The latest example is music from the new record from Karl Blau. This is a name you may know more through his associates than his recorded output. He’s played most recently with Laura Veirs (she appears on this new record) and in the past has helped out on many releases on the Krecs roster. He’s also been associated with Mirah, Wolf Colonel and The Microphones. He started his own monthly record club called Kelp! Monthly which was/is home to his idiosyncratic hand made productions.

His new record is called Beneath Waves (K Records, Jan. 24) and it’s his first for Krecs and probably his first semi-polished outing. The songs range from the bluesy (yet of course experimental) “My Johnny” which at times sounds like 3 different songs playing at once to the droning symphonic pop piece “Crashing Waves”. Buy this now from the Krecs store here.

Ode To DemonsMy JohnnyCrashing Waves [Download]

Two bonus tracks from the latest Kelp! Monthly releases by Johanna Kunin and Pure Horsehair

BlueberryLight (EEG) [Download]

P.S. That’s it. I give up! This week Some Velvet Blog has got new music by Josh Rouse, World Party and Neko Case. It’s really not even fair. Visit Some Velvet Blog here for some great music straight from the source.

The Can’t See (ex 764-Hero)

Friday, January 27th, 2006

I don’t think I should like The Can’t See. I know nothing about them or their leader John Atkins. He was in the band 764-Hero who I don’t know and all the references, clubs and bands they play with are not on my radar.

But as soon as I heard two of the songs from their new debut record I was hooked, what with the crunchy guitars and emo-ish vocals what’s not to like. They’ve got fans at KEXP and with the record label Up.

Here’s a couple from

Bar Fight [Download]

Sad Version [Download]

Dave Lang’s Big Mountain Indian Plain (self released, feb)

Friday, January 27th, 2006

Dave Lang has a new record coming out in Febuary of 2006. His version of Candiana is influenced by music or the 50′s and 60′s, be it rock or country. He’s lived all over
Canada and presently resides in Regina.

His music is as straightahead rock `n roll as you can presently get. In fact it’s a lost sound to some extent as what’s represented here is clearly a marginalized genre (made so by a need to keep things sounding new and improved). But if you value a song that takes you from point a to point b and is either funny, witty or thoughtful then you’ll like these three songs from the forthcoming record Big Mountain Indian Plains. If you have any idea who Ben Vaughn is then this may be for you as well. Visit this page to find out how to order this record in a month or so or email Dave now ( and by god he’ll get you a copy.

Goin Into TownThe Caboose Of Train SongsIt’s A Circus [Download]

Jules Shear’s Dreams Don’t Count (Mad Dragon Records, Feb 21)

Thursday, January 26th, 2006

Jules Shear has a unique story in music. Responsible for the birth of MTV’s Unplugged and the show’s first host. Jules is as well known for the hits that he wrote for other artists than for his versions of his own songs. His songs have been hits for The Bangles, Alison Mojet and Cydni Lauper. Meanwhile his own recordings have made him something of a cult like figure. He has collaborated with Chuck Prophet, Roseanne Cash and Margo Timmins.

He has admitted that he is done looking for that one big hit and is now concentrating on being artist that we can all grow old with. His new record Dreams Don’t Count is a great start. I wrote first about one of the songs in demo form from this record here, as a followup to my review of his fabulous duets record here.

The new record is a somber affair…full of miscommunications, wrong turns and mistakes both big and small. Jules soft lullabye of a voice is surrounded by wide assortment of musical colors including cello, guitar and swashes of synth-like sounds. If you are a fan of Richard Barone, Chris Stamey or any of the great pop artists of the mid-south (DB’s, REM, etc) then you know of Jules Shear and if you don’t than it’s not to late to catch the last train.

In an interesting twist this record is due out on Mad Dragon Records (distributed by Ryko) which is the college label of the students of Drexel University. Pre-order this here now.

Bad ConnectionDo What They Want To Do [Download]

New music from Canadian folk sensation Belinda Bruce

Wednesday, January 25th, 2006

There’s got to be some way to process all the information that is flowing through cyberspace. I seem to only get about 1% of it. The 1% I found today is the list of nominated artist for the Canadian folk music awards. Head of the list is Belinda Bruce. She is also up for Favorite Folk artist from The Annual Independent Music Awards (or Indies). Her record Dream Yourself Awake made several best of lists up North and will be released in Europe in March of 2006 by Shellshock UK.

Even her unreleased songs win awards as her song “Rust” is up for a medal at the Internation Songwriting Competition. I like “Falling Star the best but “The Underground” is going to be the video from the record while “Rust” is the best of her new material – a nice overview. Don’t you think!?

Falling StarThe Underground [Download]


Rust [Download]

GoodMorning Valentine – Steady Your Hands (Collectible Escalators, Feb. 28)

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Has anything great ever come out of Akron? I’m no historian (actually I guess I am with BA in History from Drew University) but I’m guessing no. The band Goodmorning Valentine is trying to change that with their upcoming disc Steady Your Hands (Collectible Escalators, Feb 28). The band resides in mid-tempo americanaland influenced rock. They’ve shared stages with perennial Songs:Illinois favorites The Damnwells, The Black Keys and Magnolia Electric Company. In fact one of the standout tracks is “Rock And Roll Boys and Girls” which reminds me of The Damnwell’s song … “Bad Thing”.

“Invitation” is as twangy as the record gets invoking a Gram Parson-ish sound. Steady Your Hands joins records by the likes of Riviera and One Star Hotel at the top of the heap of bands trying to make a dent in Wilco’s nearly industructable armor. While the release date is still officially months away you can get this one now here.

Rock And Roll Boys And GirlsInvitation [Download]

Truckstop Honeymoon

Tuesday, January 24th, 2006

Truckstop Honeymoon are presently criss crossing the country in what I expect are very meager surroundings but this duet is married so I’m guessing they’re saving some $$$ here and there. I love to think that the lyrics to Johnny And June (about The Cash’s long love affair) are somewhat autobiogrphical. I guess I’m a romantic sap.

You can hear the wide range on the disc by checking out the gulf of styles that seperate these two songs. The first is all honky tonk while the other harkens back to the story song hits of the 50′s (and a little bit of Jonathan Richman too). You can and should buy the new disc, Delivery Boy, here through their site.

Johnny and JuneDelivery Boy [Download]

I was only going to put up two songs from the new record but here’s a third it was imppossible to resist…

Magnolia Tree [Download]

New from Micah P. Hinson, Riviera, Dios Malo

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

Some great stuff landed in my inbox today. I haven’t absorbed them all yet all yet but will pass it along semi unfiltered.

Micah P. Hinson – The Leading Guy [Download]
If you can believe it this is from a June 2006 release on Jade Tree.

Riviera- The Weathermen plus Neil Young’s Revolution Blues [Download]
These guys made a splash last year with their debut record on the Chicago label/online community Glorious Noise. Here’s two new studio tracks from their upcoming sophomore effort.

A b-side from Dios (Malos) – Dumb After All [Download]
I really like these guys, their new record, 2005′s self titled affair, was a strong entry and made numerous top 2005 lists.

Jimmy Fallon (the song!)

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

The Willis have a new record that’s out now on Doubleplusgood Records.

The song “Jimmy Fallon” touches on all my lyrical bases (SNL, being an audiophile, behind the scenes lyrics about a band’s life, and some serious name dropping).

Jimmy Fallon [Download]


Cammo Kids [Download]

Long May You Run, J. Tillman

Monday, January 23rd, 2006

Damien Jurado has done more for struggling singer songwriters than anyone I know. In bio after bio artists cite him for helping them further their careers. Whether it’s passing on a demo (in this case with J. Tillman) or sharing the stage with or by contributing on fledgling artists records he has made his mark as an informal A&R guy.

J. Tillman’s new 2006 release is Long May You Run, J. Tilman, and as with his previous release it’s a collaboration with Eric Fisher (Damien Jurado, Rosie Thomas). You can preorder this limited edition run of only 150 here through Keep Recordings. The songs are low-key, half whispered, half sung affairs. For some reason it seems to me that this would have been good soundtrack for Brokeback Mountain.

My Waking DaysSeven States Across [Download]

Indie Pop from Brazil (Humblebee, Feb. ?)

Sunday, January 22nd, 2006

Brazillian indie pop, count me in! Postal Blue is the band, tweeish label Humblebee is responsible for this slice of pop heaven. Buy the Road to Happiness here (actually you can’t yet but check back soon)

The World Doesn’t Need You [Download]

A request for more of Ed’s Redeeming Qualities

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

Apparently I’m one of the few individuals who have every record by the great, yet defunct Boston band (actually Amherst, MA.) Ed’s Redeeming Qualties. Like with the Gordan Gano (Violent Femmes) gospel record or with the Roger Miller (post Mission of Burma) instrumental rock-fusion project Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, I seem to be the sole resource on the web for music from these bands and I’m honored and glad to help.

Here’s what I wrote about Ed’s in another post from a while ago:

“If that title means anything at all to you I’m impressed. Ed’s Redeeming Qualitites were one of the strangest and most wonderfull bands I’ve ever encountered. Their songs (all their songs) were attempts to be funny. Amazingly they succeeded 9 times out of 10. If the songs weren’t outright funny then they were slightly twee, dealing with relationships, life or death in a very simple, childlike manner.
Sadly one of their main members and chief songwriters died (making their album titles It’s All Good News and More Bad Times very ironic). They had a great run though (starting in the early 90′s) and actually had a minor college hit with the song “Lawndart” which was included on one of the first CMJ compilations.”

A Reader wrote in a couple of days ago for one song called “More Bad Times” from their 1990 release of the same name on Flying Fish Records. I couldn’t resist posting a few more from this band that was the precursor to any/all great twee bands of the `00′s. So here’s “More Bad Times”, “The Boy I Work With” and their near miss “Lawn Dart”.

More Bad TimesThe Boy I Work WithLawn Dart [Download]

Cameron McGill – Street Ballads and Murderesques

Saturday, January 21st, 2006

Thanks to Cameron McGill and his press agent at McClusky and Associates I’ve had his new record Street Ballads And Murderesques for close to six months. I’ve been sitting on it (don’t worry it’s not bent) waiting for there to be a link to purchase it. The link to CDBaby and the Awarestore just went live so here’s Cameron.

I wrote about him here first and since that release his sound has been fleshed out a little bit. His live show (which impressed the unwashed hordes at CMJ) now features a full band with cello. While Cameron is safely within the walls of the singer-songwriter encampment his songs, which range from 5-7 minutes, are not your usual folky fare. Verse chorus verse structure apparently doesn’t do it for Cameron, so instead he’s delved deep into his personal history as well as his own mythology to come up with a sound that of course will continue to be compared to Jeff Buckely and Bob Dylan but rightly should just be his own. Here’s a couple from Street Ballads… due out sometime in February but now available in your best Chicago stores brick and mortar stores and online here and here.

What You WantedWorry About A Thing [Download]

PS Record release show in Chicago at the Hideout on tonight, January 21st.