Archive for February, 2006

"The Ghosts" by Money Can’t Buy Love

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

Money Can’t Buy Love stradles two worlds. The physical world in that the two artists involve live miles apart (Scotland and Sweden) and the musical world in that they try to meld lyrical poetry and stories with electronics.

If you ever wanted to get in on the ground floor with a band this is your chance. They formed in the early part of 2005 and by September their first song was played on BBC radio. “The Ghosts” is a story song told over a bed of mild electronics, it’ll remind you of a few other bands (particularly another odd Scottish band). But that’s ok, it’s not like we’re being inundated with electronic, folk-pop story songs.

The Ghosts

Make a difference with Sixty Five Roses benefit cd (new song from Chris Stamey) (Red Eye, March 27)

Tuesday, February 28th, 2006

There aren’t many opportunities to do good with a blog. Some people have that little banner across the top to stop famine (or is it to end war?) and that helps, when a disaster hits we’re all motivated to give back and often times I think blogs, even superficial music blogs can make a difference. That’s why I was excited to hear about the covers disc Songs For Sixty Five Roses a benefit for children with Cystic Fibrosis.

This particular fundraiser is based in North Carolina where John Plymale lives and where his daughter Allie was diagnosed with CF (“sixty five roses” is how kids pronounce Cystic Fibrosis). John is a musician so he used his contacts in the NC scene to put together this covers disc. It’s got an incredible array of artists involved including Tift Merrit, Caitlin Cary, Portastic and Chris Stamey.

Speak of the devil, here’s Chis Stamey covering the tune “Nothing Is Wrong” by his former and now present band The db’s. You can preorder the disc here and learn more about the cause here.

Nothing Is Wrong

Willard Grant Conspiracy’s new song from "Let It Roll" (Loose Music, March 27)

Monday, February 27th, 2006


After 18 months or so of doing this little project called Songs:Illinois, the time I’ve put in is starting to pay off. My visibility is just at the point where I can post the cream of the crop. For instance I just got this new song from the upcoming Willard Grant Conspiracy cd out in March on Loose Records called Let It Roll. Now if I can just get something from the upcoming Giant Sand gospel record on Thrill Jockey.

This is just one song from a very diverse record. Everything from folk country to mariachi to raging rock are included on this their 6th album. This song combines all of the trademark WGC sounds in one place; vocals like a weary, disgruntled Steve Earl, music like a loose Calexico and tempo shifts like something from Spoon. Guests include members of Lambchop and Dream Syndicate and Mary Lorson of Madder Rose. There’s a video for another song off the new record here (it’s as sad and depressing as the mp3 below). Look for this one towards the end of March.

Flying Low

New song from David Wilcox (plus an article about Crackers new disputed "Best of" disc)

Saturday, February 25th, 2006


David Wilcox has one of the great voices in singer- songwriterdom. His new record is a duets affair called Out Beyond Ideas and the profits go to a conflict resolution center. It’s as sincere and sensitve record as you’re going to find. If you’re at all cynical don’t buy one; buy two cause you need it. It’s on What Are Records (Samples, Stephen Lynch)

Out Beyond Ideas

Bonus song from David’s 2003 release Into The Mystery.

Out Of The Question

P.S. and on a completely different note, Mark Caro of the Chicago Tribune wrote a nice little piece on the cynical (ne evil) masterminds at Virgin Records and their treatment of Cracker and a new best of record they put together against the bands wishes.

Be My Love from Garage D’Or

Yahoo (!) new songs from Tommy Keene (Eleven Thirty Records, April 4) plus on tour w/Robert Pollard

Friday, February 24th, 2006


Tommy Keene is an enigma. He has one of the all time best debut records in his 6 song ep Places That Are Gone, he records perfectly crafted pop songs, he has worked with Peter Buck, Paul Westerberg and now GBV’s Robert Pollard. And somehow he’s still one of the least well known people in rock music.

Places That Are Gone was his debut release and it came out in 1984, I was very impressionable at that time and that record has marked me for life. While it contains jangly guitars and a ryhthm section to die for my main impression years later is of melancholy and lonliness (the album title alone brings me down). His followup lp created even more fans for his brand of jangle-pop. The oddly titled Songs From The Film (there was no film) cemented his place in the pantheon of great songwriters (at the time his contemporaries were Richard Barone, Chris Stamey and REM). A wildly sporadic writer it took 7 years til there was a follow to Songs….since then Tommy has recorded for Geffen and Matador and Spinart. His new record is Crashing The Ether (Eleven Thirty Records, April 4) and it picks up nicely right where he left off, like a day hasn’t passed since 1984.

Here’s the leadoff track, “Black And White New York” from Crashing The Ether. Buy it here. Look for Tommy Keene’s next record, a project with Robert Pollard called The Keene Brothers, sometime this summer.

Black And White New York

Bonus songs from Tommy Keene’s back catalog

Circumstances
Hanging Over My Head

—-More good news from the music blog world:

Aquarium Drunkard has amazing taste in music, that his tastes are similar to mine means I’m not doing half bad myself I guess. Justin (the guy behind Drunkard) has started a label and his inauguaral release is the solo project by Daniel Hutchins (Bloodkin, Panic). Daniel’s release comes out this fall so you can only sample his work now. But if you like it you can help him out by voting for him on Paste Magazine’s page of the 100 Best Living Songwriters.

Here’s his Graham Parker-Warren Zevon-Peter Case-flavored “Sensible Shoes”

Sensible Shoes

Foot Foot’s "Snaggle and Buck" (Oedipus Records

Friday, February 24th, 2006


A band always gets extra points when they address me by name in their emails. Foot Foot got those initial free points but earned even more once I heard their songs. They’ve been described as a “tiny folk orchestra” and they site their influences as The Breeders, Neil Young and Tom Waits. If they knew any better they’d throw in Ed’s Redeeming Qualities and Tullycraft into that stew.

There’s upwards of five tracks to listen to on their website or on their label’s site (Oedipus Records). I won’t link to them all but check out both sites for more from Foot Foot. I like the line “Fuck It, let’s just sit still and bury our hands” from “Out Of The Sand”. Buy their debut record Snaggle and Buck here.

Out Of The Sand
Wind Blows The door Open

Great new songs from OX (due summer of 2006)

Thursday, February 23rd, 2006


Everybody’s got their pet projects I guess. And I’ve got mine. One is the Canadian band Ox (I wrote about em here, here) They’ve gotten more mileage out of their debut record, Dust Bowl Revival, than a late model Ford Pinto (or that Camaro they sing about in one of their songs). Self released in 2003 and then picked up and signed to Second Nature Records in 2005 Dust Bowl Revival is that rare example of a record that deserved to be heard and actually was. Ox has been busy in the studio for all of 2005 recording a followup to that record. Apparently they’ve got enough for two records: Burn Out Pt. 1 and Pt. 2. both are scheduled for June of 2006.

The new songs they’ve just posted continue their evaluation of the American landscape. How is it that this band from Vancouver has a better grasp on our culture and sound than most of the bands toiling away here in the states? Of course as important as the songs is Marc Brownings voice and delivery. His tired drawl and that lonesome warble in his voice go perfectly with the understated musical backdrop of eerie guitar, harmonica, pedal steel and drums. These two songs just made my best of 2006 list. How about you? Sign up to be their friend and check out their concert schedule here on My Space. Buy Dust Bowl Revival if you haven’t already done so here.

747
Unknown Legend

Thanks to my friend in SF for the reminder!

The Foxgloves Family (unreleased demos)

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006


The Foxgloves Family say they love the music of the Carter Family, Elizabeth Cotton and Johnny Cash. But I guess they’ve heard their fair share of Uncle Tupelo, The Jayhawks and Blue Mountain as well. I would more likely place them in this second group. The band is indeed family as I believe it is a duo containing brothers Nick and James who originally hailed from Albuerquerque and Nashville. The duo now reside in Oakland.

Check out these couple of demos and then see the band in person at the March 4th show at the French Fry Factory in Oakland or a day later at the Gram Parson’s Tribute concert at the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco. No pressure to buy anything this time, just enjoy these simple acoustic tunes and contact the band and tell em that they’ve done good – foxglovesfamily@yahoo.com.

Baby Birds
Across The Wires

Kelly Jean Caldwell and Showdown At The Equater

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006


Kelly Jean Caldwell made one of the great little records of 2005. It’s not just me saying that I saw it on a top 5 list somewhere. Kelly Jean Caldwell is also in the band Showdown at the Equator. I wrote about Kelly’s music here.

Showdown at the Equator has a demo of their song Suicide girl up now on their web page and also their MySpace page. The new record comes out sometime in 2006 and as always features members of Saturday Looks Good To Me.

Suicidegirl

Bonus song from 2004′s Character Study

Consequences

Class of `77 by Actual Birds

Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

There’s something going on that’s not quite right between the bands Actual Birds, High Spirits, Showdown at the Equater, Kelly Jean Caldwell and the ever elusive Emily Jane Powers. If I ever find out what it is I’ll be sure to fill you in.

The Actual Birds are putting the finishing touches on their new record called Viva La Fantastique! Avec The Actual Birds, High Spirits and Friends. One of the friends is Emily Jane Powers who produced this little lofi wonder and who I wrote about here first. I originally called that post “obscure lo-fidelity” but now I would change it to “queen of midwest lo-fidelity”.

Anyway I find all of this lofi strumming and crooning highly entertaining so here’s a sneak preview of “Class Of 1977″ by the Actual Birds from their forthcoming record Viva….

Class Of 1977

An older song featuring Kelly Jean Caldwell and Fred Thomas of Saturday Looks Good To Me from the album The Sky Is Full Of Ghosts.

Crooked Smile

Bonus songs by Emily Jane Powers from her 2005 releases on Aritao Records. Buy them over there and help these kids stay in peanut butter and jelly and grilled cheese for another week.

Lincoln Square
Our Youthfull Past

Hayward Williams (by way of Peter Mulvey)

Monday, February 20th, 2006

I almost forgot what led me to Hayward Williams. But it came to me reading his bio. His new record Trenchfoot was produced by yesterdays featured artist Peter Mulvey. And he’s got glowing reviews by none other than fellow Wisconsin native and Songs:Illinois favorite Jeffrey Foucault and the usually very sarcastic newspaper The Onion.

For a guy of twenty something these songs and this voice are astounding. Peter Mulvey puts it best when he says that “he has already written a few songs that any self respecting songwriter would give an arm to have done.” Buy Trenchfoot here.

Lazuras

More from Casey Dienel (Hush, March 14)

Friday, February 17th, 2006


Nothing has changed since my first post a week ago of Casey Dienel’s music. I’m still crazy about it. Hush has added a track from her forthcoming cd Wind up Canary to their website. “Doctor Monroe” seems to be about some depraved older man living out his final days. Not a bad topic for a loungy lofi jazz/folk singer. It has just the right elements of music you might hear in a bizarre German cabaret nightclub or some sensitve-singer/songwriter-java-jive joint.

More at her blah blah blah page.

Doctor Monroe

Peter Mulvey’s The Knuckleball suite (Signature Sounds, April 18)

Friday, February 17th, 2006

Peter Mulvey‘s new record The Knuckleball Suite comes out April 18th but he has been kind enough to put one song from the new record up on his site. It’s the bouncy folk song “Old Simon Stimson”.

I was introduced to Peter through his work with Redbird a trio of folk performers that released a record back in 2003. Redbird was and is Jeffrey Foucault, Kris Delmhorst and Peter Mulvey. Mulvey is also a producer of sorts working with people like Hayward Williams (who I’ll write about tomorrow). When Peter says “producer” he really just means setting up in his living room and turning on the microphone. In fact one of his first releases on Signature Sounds was a covers project where he went back to the subway platform in Boston where he had done a lot of busking earlier in his career and set up a tape recorder and just recorded the album right there in one take. The sounds on his new record will be much more finely polished and produced in the traditional sense. You can’t buy The Knucleball Suite anywhere yet but I’ll try to do an update in a few weeks with a link to preorder it.

Old Simon Stimson

Elizabeth Fraser (Cocteau Twins) duets with Jeff Buckley (1995)

Thursday, February 16th, 2006


I’ll admit to going through a Cocteau Twins phase if you’ll admit to liking The Bronski Beat. It was in college and I needed my sleep and there was nothing better to nap to in those days than the Cocteau Twins.

Since then I have lost touch with all of their various side projects, reunions and solo works. But I was excited to find this demo of a duet by Elizabeth Fraser and Jeff Buckley performed sometime before he died, probably in 1995.

All Flowers (In Time Bend Toward The Sun)

I originally found this at the French site PopNews.

Said The Gramaphone continues his “Said The Guest” series this time with Casiotone For The Painfully Alone handpicking a number of tracks.

Serendipity and Coincidence – Troy Campbell’s "Long In The Sun" (Self-released, Feb. 7)

Thursday, February 16th, 2006


Well how weird is this? Through no doing of my own it’s been one year exactly since I wrote about Austinite Troy Campbell. Troy Cambell has a new record that came out on Feb. 7. It’s called Long In The Sun.

He’s written a morbid, yet classic tale of rough and tumble texas life and death called “Killing Time In Texas”. I’m sure the whole record is this good based on his last record and his work with the band Loose Diamonds. I wrote about him here first on Feb. 16 2005. Buy the new disc here.

Famous
Killing Time In Texas

Rachel Cantu (With Tegan)

Wednesday, February 15th, 2006


Rachel Cantu promised to keep me in the loop with her new record after my glowing post of her earlier work (here). But you know these artists all flaky and all. I just restumbled upon her site and her new songs. Her new website is up as well as links to new songs from the debut record Run All Night (QDivision, Feb. 7)

I’m going to go with the obvious first choice: the guest artist song. On “Saturday” she duets with Tegan Quin (Tegan and Sara) and it’s a fine sexy grrl anthem (reminds me of Syd Straw). I love when Rachel sings “bring those lips, those hips right in front of me”. You can order this one now at QDivision Records. See her March 7 in Cambridge at the now venerable Middle East.

Saturday

Peter Walker – Young Gravity (Dangerbird Records, April 11)

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006


I don’t know Peter Walker at all. I can’t give you one little antedote. I don’t remember what internet mp3 blogging trick led me to his site but I’m glad I found him. There’s next to nothing up at his MySpace page and even less at his webpage and just a static diplay at the label site (Dangerbird Records)(home to Silversun Pickups and La Rocca).

The new record will be out in the spring of 2006 and will have at least this one great song on it. Here’s “Young Gravity” from the record of the same name.

Young Gravity

Snowed In on Valentines Day (Mark Erelli) (Signature Sounds. March 7)

Tuesday, February 14th, 2006

There’s a trio of performers that have been joined in my mind for the last couple of years. They’ve become like a monolithic folk monster with three heads. They are Mark Errelli, Jeffrey Foucault and Kris Delmhurst. They seem like they’re old friends and collaborators so I’m guessing they don’t mind being lumped together. My impression is they have all come up together and are all three ready to step up and share the upper echelon of the folk world with Brown/Gorka/Paul et al.

Mark Erelli is today’s featured artist. His new record, Hope & Other Casualties, comes out on March 7 on Signature Sounds but Mark has been kind enough to share the first single with you and it’s the appropriately named “Snowed In” (at least for the east coast). The song turns being snowed in from an annoyance to a chance to spend time with the person you love. It’s a great message for a snowy Valentines Day. The album cover pays homage to all those great Columbia folk albums of the 60′s-70′s, it’s got just enough sepia tone to fit in with all those great Troubadour covers of the past. Mark’s sound, while updated and fleshed out with drums, organ and guitar, also fits in with that great folk era. Preorder Hope & Other Casualties here at Amazon.

B000E8N8N4.01._AA240_SCLZZZZZZZ_

Snowed In

Bonus song – a live rendition of Richard Thompson’s classic “I Feel So Good”

I Feel So Good

Indie pop from The Specific Heats (debut due in 2006)

Monday, February 13th, 2006


The Specific Heats are anticipating a 2006 release date for their debut cd. This Boston indie lofi pop group has combined a little of Jonathan Richman’s naivite and some of Belle And Sebastian’s pop sensibility. Cut them some slack on the sound too as these are just rough mixes.

I like all the ice cream references and all the Boston lingo (trip to Arlington, Copley Square etc). More songs to stream from their MySpace page.

The Ice Cream Shop
Take The Wheel

East of Bristol, West of Knoxville

Sunday, February 12th, 2006

Jordan Chassen has done it all over the past thirty years. His recording debut was as part of a Live At CBGB set put out in 1976, his solo debut came out 20 years later on Polydor and now he’s back with a followup another 10 years down the road.

Not very prolific really. But the music on East Of Bristol, West Of Knoxville is so prisitine (recorded by Jordan in his analog studio) and of such a high quality that you can understand the delay.

Hard Work Being A Fool
Things Just Do

Don’t be a fool get this record now at Strong Recordings (heck it was Jim Fusilli’s Top albums for Boomers in 2005).