Archive for May, 2006

Dusty Sound System (Goldrush spinoff) (pt. 3 of UK music series)

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

Dusty Sound System (Truck Records) is a spinoff of the band Goldrush, which is odd since Goldrush is a sort of experimental Flaming Lips electroniclushfolk. On the other hand DSS is fairly straightforward folk/country. The band consists of members of Piney Girl, Ride, Electric Soft Machine and Brian Jonestown Massacre.

While this theme week was meant to be UK based singer-songwriters, it seems like it could have easily have been an anti-war (specifically Iraq) theme week as Dusty Sound System continues to rage against the politics, violence and senselessness of this war. It seems the British are more concerned with this war then we are here in the states, perhaps we need to take a stand soon as well. Both of these songs are off 2005′s Days of Horror, Nights of Splendor (buy it here though Cargo).

I’m A SoldierNation At War [Download]

Bonus tracks by Goldrush:

DeadAppalachian SongWait For The Wheels [Download]


A musical arguement against Art Brut, Arctic Monkeys etc. – Indigo Moss (pt. 2 of UK music series)

Wednesday, May 31st, 2006

I hadn’t expected to be posting about any bluegrass inspired British bands til I came upon Indigo Moss and knew I’d have to squeeze them in. Apparently there is at least a minute amount of backlash in the London club scene after Art Brut, Arctic Monkeys and others have created a feeding frenzy for any group of 4 to 5 bloks with guitars, scruffy outfits and bad teeth.

A band like Indigo Moss is taking alternate routes to capturing the attention of fans of lasting music. This group of Londoners have adopted a communal creed with all members changing their last name to Moss (let’s see there’s Lil Moss, Simon Moss, Hannah Lou Mos, Trevor moss etc. etc.) and have committed themselves to playing some strange brew of 20′s swing, southern blues and appalachian folk.

Anyway here’s two songs from an English band intent on making music on their own conditions and not being the flavor of the month. I hope that originality in the face of conformity propels their career forward..

Start Over AgainSuicide Song [Download]

P.S. Happy Birthday to me!


New song from Ramona Cordova (from split EP with Steve Brodsky)

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

I’ve been happy to receive partial credit from Ramona Cordova‘s camp on his recent overseas success. I’ve been plugging The Boy Who Floated Freely for over a year but it still needs wider acceptance. I’d like to see Ramona get half of the press, sales and live shows here in the states that he gets in Europe.

He’s got one new song on a split ep with Steve Brodsky that ECA Records has just released. The song is called “coda” and it’s even more lofi than the tunes from his debut release. But the emotional sentiments, otherwordly vocal delivery and fairy tale instrumentation are still all there (in fact bicycle gear noices and toy piano have been added to the mix). You can buy the debut cd here and the new split ep here.

Coda [Download]

P.S. UK singer-songwriter theme week will continue in the morning. See you then.


Simon J Alpin (the start of a UK based singer-songwriter week)

Tuesday, May 30th, 2006

Against my better judgement I’m about to start a kind of half-hearted, half-assed UK singer-songwriter feature. The music promises to be outstanding but I started this little theme last night so the writing may continue to be subpar which is par for the course, no? Expect lots of James Blunt, Elton John and KT Tunstall…just kidding but there’ll be a an undiscovered gem or two. Suggestions encouraged and needed, if you know of a great UK singer-songwriter please leave it in the comments.

Simon J Alpin is a new band featuring the cream of the crop of performers in the uk and from the states. The band features Simon Alpin of course (worked with Willard Grant, Jess Klein), but also Catlin Cary on trumpet and Jess Klein on backing vocals. Except for two parts which were overdubbed in the US these songs were recorded live to keep the spontaneity and old time analog vibe in tact.

Hoe To RoeHere With Me [Download]


Summer driving songs (also drugs, sex and a whole litany of "bad things")

Monday, May 29th, 2006

Sorry to intrude upon you for the third time today but Muzzle of Bees was kind enough to ask for a selection of summer songs from me for his continuing theme. I sent over 5 about fucking, drugs, heroine, and other assorted “bad things” but don’t let that stop you. Actually I focused in on a subcategory of summer songs: the driving song. So either they’re about driving or they’d be perfect for cruising around town on a hot summer day or both. Really, it’s a nice collection of songs from The Silos, The Damnwells, Michael Hall, Dan Byrk, Kevn Kinney and Pelle Carlberg.

Click here to visit the Songs:Illinois’ sounds of summer.


Caught hook, line and sinker by David Bazan (June 13)

Monday, May 29th, 2006

I usually don’t fall captive to pr company bait. The majority of the bands being hyped are being hyped `cause they need it or because they can pay. But the email I just got about David Bazan is an exception. For whatever reason Pedro The Lion was one of the few “indie bands” I could stomach. The list is short and includes Rilo Kiley, Mercury Rev, Yo La Tengo and Sonic Youth. Others have snuck in now and again but not often.

David Bazan has his solo ep, Fewer Moving Parts, coming out June 13 and from the first song released and the song titles of the others it seems like a brave record. “Backwoods Nation (Here We Go Again)” takes a swipe at rednecks, spin doctors and frat boys all within a powerful anti-war song. David’s on tour all summer both solo and with Undertow Orchestra (Mark Eitzel, Vic Chesnut and Will Johnson) which seems like our generation’s version of the Traveling Wilburys (except with a social conscience). Buy the new ep here now. Click here for tour dates

Backwoods Orchestra [Download]

Other assorted Pedro The Lion treats:

RaptureI Am Always The One Who CallsDiscretionThe Longest Winter [Download]
(one of my favorites)


Troy Van Balthazar’s "Took some $$$ (plus a new song from Richard Reagh)

Monday, May 29th, 2006

Troy Von Balthazar is one of the few names I didn’t know from the new Modern Folk compilation put together by the French distributor Wagram Records. On it you’ll find Devandra Banhart, Sufjan Stevens, Andrew Bird and Syd matter among others. But it’s Troy Van Balthazar’s name, with it’s regal sound, that intrigued me the most. His latest record, 2005′s self titled debut on Olympic Records, was completely overlooked as far as I can tell.

On the song “Took Some Money” Troy is not afraid to mix acoustic guitar with odd percussion and occasional distorted guitar. Lyrically the song is pretty brave with it’s f-bombs and lyrics of what it takes to be a “real man”.

Took some $$ [Download]

Richard Reagh is an ex-pat Canadian living in Stockholm. He’s made a lot of friends in the Swedish indie scene (actually the world scene with acquaintances like Erlend Oye, Sophie Rimheden). Because he’s barely Swedish Richard keeps me up to date with the progress on his new record for Swedesplease but this piano based pop song is perfect for Songs:Illinois as well.

Me Too [Download]


Warres Zanes (the Del Fuegos) – "People That I’m wrong For" (Dualtone, March 14)

Sunday, May 28th, 2006

Warren Zanes‘ story harkens back to my youth as he was one of the founding members of the Boston rock band The Del Fuegos. In a strange twist of fate my experiences with The Del Fuegos have come full circle as my children enjoy the kid’s music of the other half of The Del Fuegos – Dan Zanes.

Since that bands dissolution, Warren has gone on to get a Doctorate, become a celebrated writer, a professor, and the vice president of the Rock `N’ Roll Hall Of Fame Museum. He has continued to record and these songs are taken from his brand new release on

Dulatone called People That I’m Wrong For. The record is nothing fancy, it was recorded in a week and produced by Daniel Tashian and engineered by Brad Jones. However, it is the kind of easy, organic rock that you don’t hear much these days. “Ella’s Arms” is about Ella Fitzgerald and how easy it is to get wrapped up in her music. “Jr’s Bag of Tricks” is a funky little number rooted in organ and choppy guitar. Buy an autographed copy here.Ella’s ArmsJr’s Bag Of Tricks [Download]


The Wilders’ "Throw Down"

Saturday, May 27th, 2006

The Wilders are just another bluegrass band from Kansas City. Then again maybe not. They sent their music to a blogger so they’re not luddites by any stretch. They’re booked by the best outfit in the country (Billions Booking). And they’re a bunch of young cats with goatees, cowboy hats and western garb. So with all of that going for them let’s hope all their dreams come true (perhaps getting signed to Bloodshot, Hightone, or Rounder).

The new record, Throw Down, came out April 25. And there’s a ton of great music on there. It’s split about 50/50 between instrumentals and songs with vocals but there’s quite a variety of waltzes, honky tonk, traditional bluegrass and even a little blues. Pre-order the record here from the band.

Hawks Got a Chicken And Flew In The WoodsHonky Tonk Habit [Download]


New songs from The Handsome Family (plus Let’s Get Out Of This Terrible Sandwich Shop)

Friday, May 26th, 2006

The Handsome Family has a new record coming out on Carrot Top. Last Days of Wonder comes out June 13. The Handsome Family are of course Rennie and Brett Sparks with Rennie writing the lyrics and Brett creating the music and producing the records. This is a band that you can’t just sum up with a couple pithy one-liners. They’re deep on a number of levels (in fact the basis of part of the new record comes from the life of Nikola Tesla).

So here’s a sneak peak of this Smog-like duo. More info and pre-order here. Overseas this release is handled by Loose Music.

All The Time In Airports [Download]


“Bye, You” is one of the new songs by the band with the longest name in Chicago – Let’s Get Out Of This Terrible Sandwich Shop. They just celebrated their record (ep) release party at The Beat Kitchen. I add this on here `cause it’s fun (infact they describe themselves as “indie-pop goof-rock band”) and hopefully they’ll get a little extra exposure tagged on to a Handsome Family post.

Bye, You [Download]


Blog much? Running out of ideas? (Songs from Jawbone, Guy Clark)

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Do you blog? Want some ideas for posts? Loose Records has a 10 song sampler available free online with ten of their new artists. One of the outstanding songs on the mix is a cover of the Roger Miller penned drinking classic “Chug-a-Lug” by the one man wrecking crew known as Jawbone.

Chug-A-Lug [Download]


The film Heartworn Highway has a number of americana/folk greats at the outset of their careers (and some like Townes before he passed). Guy Clark performed some songs in his kitchen, here’s one. Buy the soundtrack to the film here. Courtesy of Loose Music.

LA Freeway [Download]


Balkan marching band jazzfunk – Slavic Soul Party (Barbes Records, March)

Thursday, May 25th, 2006

Let me know if I’m driving you crazy with this balkan-punk-brass band stuff (but no one else is writing about it so I feel it’s my duty). I think I hit the jackpot with NYC’s Slavic Soul Party. Their new record Bigger came out in March on the small Brooklyn label Barbes Records (dist. by Ryko). Unlike the hip-hop urban brass sounds of NYC’s other brass band Youngblood Brass Band, it seems SSP takes a more straight edge approach. They’re jazzy in much the same way that John Lurie’s Lounge Lizards pionered that NYC nu-jazz sound.

If you’re in a cubicle or a cramped dorm room you’re gonna want to get up and make some room. It may be hard to control your limbs.

Into The NightMissy Sa Sa [Download]


New songs from Timesbold (with album to follow) plus the solo project Whip

Wednesday, May 24th, 2006

On an almost completely unrelated note, the band Timesbold has been in the studio working on their new record. Once in the studio the band and some friends recorded a great version of “Goodnight Irene” and they have released it as an mp3 while we wait for something new. Here’s “Goodnight Irene” and “I Hear You Hear” from their Woe Be Gone ep.

Goodnight IreneI Hear You Hear [Download]

Plus solo stuff from the lead singer of Timesbold Jason Merrit, he calles his solo project Whip.

Perfect DriveNature [Download]

You’ll like all of this, trust me.


Songs:Illinois morphs into Said The Largehearted Zoilusflux with review of Gerry Mitchell & Little Sparta

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

Close your eyes and imagine you’re reading this on Said The Gramaphone, Fluxblog, Largehearted Boy or Zoilus because they’re the ones who are qualified and eloquent enough to write about the offbeat Scottish poet Gerry Mitchell fronting the English band Little Sparta (website).

The few reviews (here, here) I’ve read of their collaborative cd Scalpel Slice are hesitant to mention the poetry aspect of this recording fearing that talk of spoken word will scare off the indie kids. But with his thick Scottish accent and disarming delivery Gerry Mitchell comes off as more an everyman poet than someone highbrow and elitest. If we’re all going to write about music as if it’s art or even literature, then occasionally it should be strong enough to stand up against the most serious art criticism. I think Scalpel Slice is one record that will be able to do so. Available from Fire Records or for sale though iTunes and Emusic.

Mocking Mirror [Download]

Bonus instrumental track from Scalpal Slice:

Ruins [Download]


Bobby Bare Sr. and Jr

Tuesday, May 23rd, 2006

At the inception of my blog I had a number of themes that I touched on. One theme I wrote about was family connections in music (siblings, parents and children etc). I was more ambitious back then and have since dropped all of these theme posts by now. But one family I neglected to post about is the father and son tandem of Boby Bare Sr. and Jr.

Now thanks to a live cd being sold only at Bobby Bare Jr. shows and a rare Chicago show of father and son together I can get their music up on Songs:Illinois. There’s really too much to say about both of these artists. In a nutshell Bobby Sr. is one of the great living country stars and also one of the few to have the guts to mess with the formulaic sound of Nashville by creating the first country concept album as well as throwing a myriad of styles into his honky tonk. Son followed father philosophically if not musically and now makes messed-up pop influenced by everything from spoken word to hip hop. Here’s a live version of the song “Strange Bird” that’s only available on the tour only cd Nick Nacks and Paddy Whacks. Catch father and son together at the Old Town School Of Folk Music in Chicago on May 26 and 27. Expect a new record from Bobby Bare Jr in the fall on Bloodshot.

Bobby Bare Jr.

Strange Bird [Download]
(live)(originally off of 2004′s From the End Of Your Leash)

Bobby Bare, Sr.

Are You Sincere?Ballad Of Lucy Jordan [Download]


the foundry field recordings (Emergency Umbrella, June 13)

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

It’s been awhile so I kind of forgot I wrote about the foundry field recordings debut 7″ about a year ago (here). It wasn’t until the label prodded me with a stick (and several other bloggers posted their own reviews here, here, and here) that I decided to move this post up in the que. prompts/miscues comes out on Emergency Umbrella on June 13. The sound on their debut cd is fuzzy, lo-fi indie rock with occasional nods to slowcore.

On “Buried Beneath The Winter Frames” guitars chug away in the background while the lead guitar ebbs and flows on top (usually through a couple of effects pedals). “Holding The Facts” literally pulses and throbs as it comes to life then musically it turns into something you might have heard on an early Cures record (esp. the bass line). “Broken Strings” is a complete change of pace and may be the song you’ll gravitate to the most with it’s chamberesque pop sound and lullaby backing vocals.

Pre-order prompts/miscues now at Insound for $9.99 and get a free 7″.

Buried Beneath the Winter FramesHolding The FactsBroken Strings [Download]

P.S. Just a reminder that you can very easily subscribe to this site and receive an email of these posts in your inbox by entering your email addres in the subscribe of the pagebox in the upper right hand corner. Since I have no advertising I don’t mind if you get the music this way (and never return here again!). The same is true for Swedesplease, just visit the sister site and add your email address in there as well.


Anais Mitchell’s humble, thoughtful, and subtle ant-war song "Before The Eyes Of Storytelling Girls"

Monday, May 22nd, 2006

I know Neil Young’s got this rabid anti-war record out now and more power to him but where was he when this whole thing started two years ago. I know where Anais Mitchell was. She was in the studio recording the subtle anti-war song “Before The Eyes Of Storytelling Girls”. Her opening line of “I could tell you stories like the government tell lies…” commences an intimate tale of ambivalence, lost causes and modern day loneliness.

Anais’ 2004 release, Hymns For The Exiles (Waterbug), was one of the great records of that year and two years later a song like this is even more relevant. Support Anais by buying her record here.

Before The Eyes Of Storytelling Girls [Download]

And In case you missed it the first time, two more from Hymns:

Cosmic AmericanTwo Kids [Download]


The Leels – Fingers Crossed (Cloth Monkey Records, May 9)

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

I have no reason to like the song “Watership Down” by the group The Leels. The band and I have nothing in common. The music is some strange blend of experimental indie rock with an electronic backbeat. The band’s label, Cloth Monkey Records, describes the music they release as indie/experimental/blackmetal. That’s about the furthest from my tastes as humanly possible. But nonetheless here’s the song I heard and love from their upcoming record, Fingers Crossed, on the fledgling Chicago label Cloth Monkey (May 9). Buy it here.

Watership Down [Download]

P.S. I’m kind of sneaking this in on Sunday night so no one notices…


Alt-bluegrass by Trampled By Turtles (on tour with Low and Lucero)

Sunday, May 21st, 2006

I know some people come here for bluegrass inspired music but I’m not sure how many of you there are. To appease those that do here’s some alternative bluegrass from Trampled By Turtles. By alternative I mean they’re young and may sport a tattoo or a piercing or two, they’re not from the south and their music is as inspired by rock as it is from say Bob Wills. The music is fairly traditional and conservative although it may have just enough punkish attitude to scare away traditionalists.

Here’s two songs from their 2005 release Blue Sky and the Devil. There’s also a new live record from 2006. You can get both from their store or when you see `em out on the road. And fyi this is not just some random band as they have been opening for Low and Lucero of late and later in the summer they’ll be on tour with Charlie Parr.

Blue Sky and the DevilCodeine [Download]

Kind of a nice little documentary on the band and thier music:



Helvetia and Mike Johnson (Up Records)

Saturday, May 20th, 2006

Helvetia is not exactly tearing up the blogging world and I’m not sure why. They have pedigree with members from Duster. They have indie cred being on Up Records and Static Cult. They have great artwork reminiscent of Built to Spill, The Shins and The Lil’ Ones.
And the songs seem to be there. The cool French blog ORTF has the song “Beezelbub” while Some Velvet jumped the gun in February with the title track “The Clever North Wind” (although that song’s no longer up).

This unreleased song somehow didn’t make it onto the album. A shame really.

Marea [Download]

Here’s a new song from the Mike Johnson record Gone Out Of Your Mind which came out on Up Records on April 25 and is for sale along with Helvitia in their store here.

Fade Away [Download]