Archive for June, 2006

Flowers from the man who shot your cousin (plus Tresspassers William)

Friday, June 30th, 2006

The band Flowers From The Man Who Shot Your Cousin are a work in progress as is their website and their label. However, one thing that is a fait a compli is their music. This French indie folk project from Morgan Caris features his lush vocals on top of a bed of cellos, acoustic guitars, flute and small string section.

Both “Childhood” and “Lay Down Your Arms” evoke artists like Leonard Cohen, Nick Drake and Will Oldham. But instead of being stark portraits of death and despair these songs do have a hint of promise, whether it be the hope for human contact in “Lay Down” or a forgotten past and the small little victories of modern life in “Childhood”. Waterhouse Records is the label; it’ll be up soon. For now buy this disc at Drunk Dog Records or if you’re in Paris at Ground Zero (12 Rue de Crossol).

Lay Down Your ArmsChildhood [Download]


P.S. Before they had to shift the dates of their upcoming tour Tresspassers William was scheduled to play with Flowers from the Man… Let’s just pretend that show went off as scheduled so I can tack on this song by Tresspassers William. Buy their new cd Having here.

Safe Sound [Download]

P.P.S One of my favorite songs at the moment is from Ed Greene’s debut and while I don’t have the mp3 I do have this link to his amazing video of “When The Sky Is About To Fall”. Originally poste a couple of days ago on Swedesplease. Tell me this isn’t the coolest thing you’ve heard in a while?!

When the Sky Is About To Fall


Explicitly Adult Material (plus a cover of Tullycraft’s "Superboy and Supergirl")

Thursday, June 29th, 2006

I finally decided what my nitch is after 2 years or so and over a thousand posts. I’m writing for adults. I realized this while watching my 12 year old niece search for music online. Her process was simple: find a top ten list and then see if she could find the corresponding music. I suspect this is the way many people search for music. Turns out I’m not getting any of that traffic;)

So what then is an obvious post for all you adults to enjoy out there. I was hoping it would be Duncan Sheik’s new one but his management flaked so instead I have two songs from Jeb Loy Nichols’ new album Now Then.

Jeb has been there and done that. He’s moved around his whole life and currently lives in Wales where he works on his farm and in his garden. The new record was recorded in Nashville with Mark Nevers (member of Lambchop, producer of Will Oldham) and while it may have some of the country sound of Nashville it has none of the slickness. Buy it on Amazon

here.Painted Dream House [Download]


Laleh Mae [Download]


(Btw here‘s all the pictures I didn’t use)

The Tullycraft site has morphed into an mp3 blog giving fans of the band an inside look at their favorite twee bands and lost gems. They’re doing something called “Tullycraft Tuesdays” where they feature an artist covering one of their songs. This week and I’m sure it’s no coincidence they have My Place In Space covering “Superboy & Supergirl”. This is the song that got me hooked on Tullycraft and has me patiently waiting for new songs from the band. For now though here’s this apropo song of mixed up superhero’s.

Superboy & Supergirl [Download]


Matt Keatings back! (joined by Hem and Patty Griffin)

Wednesday, June 28th, 2006

Matt Keating was one of those early 90′s power pop guys that made a dent and then seemed to fade from view (Mathew Sweet being a prime example). Well he’s back and as the cliche goes it’s like he never left. To these ears his sound has changed and grown somewhat more mature as he’s added a bit more Dylanesque shadings and harmonica, and a slight americana vibe. Perhaps he’s slowed down a bit but haven’t we all…

Matt Keating is married to NYC designer and sometime songwriter Emily Spray (she whote “14th Street” for Laura Cantrell). She also contributes vocals on the new record. Matt Keatings most recent press is this New York Magazine article about having and dealing with an only child. But I imagine the press page will start to fill up when his self-released 5th full length cd Summer Tonight is officially released on July 11. On it you can hear his special guests in his band from Hem and Patty Griffin on a bonus track. You can pre-order/buy that record here now.

Who Knew [Download]
(w/Emily Spray)

Bonus song by Laura Cantrell (written by Emily Spray)

14th Street [Download]


Bang On A Can & Don Byron (RIYL Marc Ribot, Lounge Lizards, Jim Jarmusch and The Knitting Factory before it went "indie yuppie")

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

This is not going to look, smell or sound like anything you’d hear on Songs:Illinois. But since this site is a means to help expose people to new independent music it’d ba a shame to let this opportunity pass. I’m not sure who else is going to be writing about this but I’d try these three sites if you’re interested: The Suburbs Are killing Us, Moistworks, or the new free jazz blog Destination: Out . The label for the influential avante garde jazz group Bang On A Can has just released an mp3 from their new cd Bang On A Can & Don Byron. I’m not at all familiar with Bang On A Can but I am a fan of clarinetist/composer Don Byron. He’s one of the few modern day jazzmen writing complicated, longform instrumental pieces that also have revolve around historical or literary themes. For example the compositions on the new record are divided between those about Ernie Kovacs and those devoted to the Tuskegee Airmen of WWII.

Besides the obvious reasons for writing about this music (it’s original and compelling), I also write about it because jazz labels typically haven’t embraced the blog world. I hope if several other bloggers pick up on this release and feature other songs from it then perhaps these small experimental jazz labels will find an audience. Here’s the second movement from Don Byron’s suite of music about or inspired by Ernie Novacs. Buy Bang On A Can & Don Byron here.

Eugene II [Download]


Eileen Jewell’s "Boundary County"

Tuesday, June 27th, 2006

I got an email from one of my favorite labels touting an artist that’s not even on their label (yet) and that’s both good marketing and good taste. I’m glad they shared the music of Eilen Jewell (My Space) with me as it’s the sort of acoustic based folk/roots americana music I hope Songs:Illinois is known for.

Join Eilen in Boundary County by visiting the link to Signature Sounds store here. Whether it’s the soft longing for better times of “Boundary County” or the violin led romp of “Mess Around” or even the stripped down live in the studio sound of “The Train…” as far as I can tell every song is indeed a jewel.

Boudary CountyMess AroundBack To Dallas [Download]

Bonus rarity performed live from the WMBR “American Primitive” radio show:

The Train That Carried Jimmie Rogers Home [Download]

One of her friends listed on her page are The Cankickers. They’re a punked up bluegrass, old-timey band. They actually played my living room about 6 months ago. They have a new record out called We’re Dyin But We Ain’t Dead. Here’s their take on “Coming Round The Mountain”. Buy it here.

Coming Round The Mountain [Download]

P.S. Sixeyes has some of the best music I’ve heard in a long time on a blog. The band is Theater Fire out on Undeniable Records in August.


Marla Hansen (friend to Sufjan Stevens, Jay-Z and My Brightest Diamond)

Monday, June 26th, 2006

Marla Hansen is famous for playing with other people. Most of you would know her from playing with Sufjan Stevens on Illinoise and even doing some live shows on his most recent tour. But that’s not all, this month she’ll be called into duty to perform with Jay-z at Radio City Music Hall and in July she’ll join My Brightest Diamond at Joe’s Pub in NYC.

You can guarantee she won’t be singing and playing her own material on those dates. But there will be chances to see her in the midwest this month and next as she brings her plucked and strummed viola playing and fragile-sparrow vocals to a coffeehouse or pub near you. Here’s two new songs from Marla Hansen, tour dates after the downloads.

Wedding DayHat Song [Download]
(alternate title “Lighten Up”)

Jun 25 2006 8:00P Jay-Z at Radio City Music Hall NYC
Jun 30 2006 8:00P Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse Madison, WI (w/Eric Ziegenhagen)
Jul 7 2006 8:00P Underground Lounge New York, NY
Jul 14 2006 8:00P My Brightest Diamond at Joe’s Pub New York, NY
Jul 20 2006 8:00P Inlets at Pete’s Candy Store Williamsburg, Brooklyn, NY


I’ve never once written about Sufjan or any other of the hot blog artists (despite loving much of Illinoise) but I seem to have nothing against his side women. My Brightest Diamond is Shara Worden and she is a theatrical costume wearing, classically trained, Kate Bushesque wonderkin. Her new record Bring Me The Workhorse (which Marla Hansen played on?) is out in August on Asthmatic Kitty. Goodhodgkins has a track or two (damn him!) as does Ashcan Rantings. I recently added the Goodhodgkins blog as well as the acclaimed Marathonpacks to the blogroll (recently alphabetized!).


Egad that’s a good Sunday post – Harry Taussig’s Fate Is Only Once (Thomkins Square Records, June 6)(plus Triple Burner)

Sunday, June 25th, 2006

Harry Taussig is the second artist I’ve written about for a Sunday post from the label Thomkins Square Records. His “new” record is a re-release of a short run private press lp from 1965. This record is apparently treasured by early American Primitive guitar enthusiasts and compares to the work of John Fahey and Robbie Basho.

Fate Is Only Once (links to jpegs of original `65 cover and back cover) came out on the day of the devil (o6-06-06) but since the world did not come to an end it’s safe now to purchase it here.

Blues For Zone VII [Download]


Bonus song from a band no doubt influenced by Harry Taussig (and of course the oft mentioned John Fahey). Triple Burner is the new project and album from guitarist Harris Newman and Bruce Cawdron (Godspeed You Black Emperor). It’s like they take some of that Fahey, Basho and Taussig acoustic picking and turn it up a notch and then add progressive rock percussion. The new record is available on the Quebec label Madrona Records. Here’s “Bride Of Bad Attitude”. Buy it here.

Bride Of Bad Attitude [Download]


Sasha Smith

Saturday, June 24th, 2006

I gotta admit to having a fairly strong sexist streak so when I saw the name Sasha Smith I kinda hoped it was a chick singer. Once my expectations were dashed though I was quite happy with what I found. Sounding like a more operetic Billy Joel or a folkier Ben Folds, Sasha is a fixure on the California freak folk scene but his tunefulness betrays that crowd. “Oklahoma” is taken from a new six song ep called Listen to the Tracks.

Oklahoma [Download]



Friday, June 23rd, 2006

What to think of a band that actually dresses nicely when they come out to play. Is well behaved and writes mature sounding music. Something like this is hard to hype as it goes against everything that’s hot right now in the music industry. But the same care this band takes to get dressed is the same care they seem to put into their well crafted Neil Young like acouselectric rock.

Northwood is the London based band (by way of Coppenhagen and Oxford) they formed in 2005 and have four demos up on their site. Again the demos are incredibly well crafted. The band has been playing in and around London but being from the wrong side of the Atlantic I’m not sure if that’s been creating any buzz for them in their home city. But I’ll do my little bit here on Songs:Illinois by linking to three of their best songs. You can buy The Sound Of Nothwood ep here.

LongshipsWatergunBoost Me Up [Download]
(uptempo little thing!)


Warning from The Cairo Gang (plus Montt Mardie)

Friday, June 23rd, 2006

The Cairo Gang have released a new song from their self titled debut out soon on Narnack. It’s just this guy Emmitt Kelly but he’s opened for The Fall and is playing guitar in Beth Orton’s band. The song “Warning” has a nice feel to it with accents of flute, nylon-stringed guitar strums and what sounds like a recorder. Emmitt’s lead vocals are clear when they need to be, uplifting if called for and inevitably become a sad refrain.

I could have sworn bunches of blogs have been posting on The Cairo Gang but a quick glance to and Hype turned up nothing, so here’s your first taste of The Cairo Gang.

Warning [Download]

PS Swedesplease has an update on the busy Swedish label Hybris. In particular a link to the song 1969 from the new Montt Mardie ep Science.

1969 [Download]
(highly recommended)


a.m. interstate (Turquoise Mountain, sometime in 2006)

Thursday, June 22nd, 2006

a.m. interstate (temporary website) recorded their new record with every piece of analog equipment they could jam into a 700 sq. foot house. From their name and this brief blurb I suspect you have an inkling of their sound. Of course you’ll hear snippets of Wilco, the country rock of the Jayhawks and the growly southern rock of the Drive By Truckers but this Portland, Oregon based trio has put in the time and the miles to take credit for these songs and to ignore the above comparisons.

“Dirty and Low” is as the song title implies the grungy track on the 12 song album while “Neon River” is the slow, lovely, country-infused song. So take your pick but if your horizons are broad download both and then run out to get the record when it comes out in June on Turquoise Mountain (a subsidiary of Rainbow Quartz).

Dirty and LowNeon River [Download]


Damon McMahon – Mansions (Astralwerks, July 25)(plus the Airfields, Idaho and The High Violets)

Wednesday, June 21st, 2006

I like the fact that acoustic artists (a guy/gal with a guitar) are getting their fair share of attention. Is this a result of the Nick Drake car commercial, the continued influence of Jeff Buckely or the emergence of Jose Gonzalez as an international star? Probably none of the above or a little bit of each. Either way Damon McMahon, a founding member of the NY band Inouk, has his debut record coming out in July on Astralwerks of all places.

Despite the sound/philosophy of the label there is nary a drum machine or synthesizer in sight. Donovan hangs with Miguel Mendez among others if that gives you a clue to his sound. He may be a bit of a scenster for Songs:Illinois but the music on Mansions is just about perfect. The song below features his trademark exagerated vibratto and it is an emotional tour-de-force.

Somewhere In France [Download]

A couple of bonus tracks from Inouk, including their minor indie hit “Elected”

ElectedNo Danger [Download]


Here’s a couple more posts that never made it to prime time.

It’s funny just last night I was going to sit down and write a little piece on the band The Airfields and their new ep laneways. Something came up and I proscratinated. But then the next day lo and behold in the mail from Humblebee was laneways.

Laneways comes out April 18th and is a little gem of a jangly, echo and reverb filled shoegazer “dream pop” (the term “dream pop” comes courtesy of Shake Your Fist). I’ve written about nearly everything Humblebee puts out and at this rate I’ve got no reason to stop. You can order this directly from Humblebee here.

Nowhere Left To Turn [Download]

Oh yeah and p.s. did I say they were from Canada (nudge, nudge say no more, you know what I mean ;)


Idaho is the ultimate in underground bands, keeping listeners at bay with odd sounds, beats, four string guitars and lyrical manpulations. On their new record for Talitres and their retrospective on Retrophonic Jeff Martin of Idaho shows why he was the leader of the slocore movement as well as perhaps why he has broken away from that movement.

The retrospective, We Were Young And Needed The Money, is out now on what seems like Idaho’s own label – Retrophonic. Buy both release here. (sorry waited too long to post this and Retrophonic has gone under)

When Sunday Comes [Download]

Much Closer Now [Download]


This is a slightly different sound than what you might usually hear on Songs:Illinois but the band sites Galaxie 500 (but what they really meant to say was Mazzy Star) as a main influence and so that still goes a long way with me. To Where You Are by the The High Violets (remember The March Violets) comes out January 31st on Reverb Records and that is a fitting label for a band that keeps the sustain, distortion and wah wah pedal plugged in and turned on at all times.

Here’s “Sun Baby”. Order it now here.

Sun Baby [Download]

P.P.S. Said The Gramophone has a guest post by Beirut and no surprise here he writes about some Balkan braas bands.


Scott H. Biram – Graveyard Shift (Bloddshot, July 25) plus songs by Leaving TX, Blake Thomas, and Tom Russell)

Tuesday, June 20th, 2006

Scott H. Biram’s upcoming Bloodshot release, Graveyard Shift, turned me off right from the start. The album art is atrocious, it’s graphically ugly as well as featuring a picture of fresh roadkill. On top of that there’s a little star shaped banner that says “This record sounds best when turned up loud.” I hate to see that on cds as it usually implies hard rock/metal/noise core stuff. So with much trepidation and my faith in Bloodshot Records wavering I slid the disc into my player.

I was surprised by the sounds emanating from my speakers. Instead of loud obnoxious rock I got an echoey one-man-band folk/blues. Scott H. Biram is a one man band who practically lives on the road. He comments on life on the road, sinning, finding jesus and the loss of his best friend. I highly recommend this disc. Pre-order Graveyard Shift here.

Been Down Too LongOnly Jesus [Download]

Here’s a couple bands that slipped through the cracks and deserve a full post but will only get this abbreviated one. Check em out nonetheless.

Leaving Tx is a Washington DC based alt-country band. They’ve done a great job of getting the word out on their self released debut.

Fallen Angel———-Blake Thomas and the Downtown Bunch [Download]
are one of Madison’s favorite unsigned bands. They are nearing the end of recording their debut record at Butch Vigs studio. What I like about about alt-country or americana (or call it what you will) is that bands from any part of the country with very divergent means and mesages can filter their sound through this template (altering it at will due to regional differences and available insruments).

Boston———-Tom Russell [Download]
is the perfect person to wax poetic about boxing. He’s as literate as a short story writer and has a voice suited to historical folk. This new song is from his 2006 disc Love and Fear.

The Pugilist at 59 [Download]


Kris Delmhorst’s new poetry inspired record "Strange Conversation" (Signature Sounds, June 27) (plus songs from Casey Dienel’s Daytrotter session)

Monday, June 19th, 2006

I’ve written about every member of the folk supergroup Redbird (Jeffrey Foucault, Peter Mulvey) and nearly every release by the label Signature Sounds. With only a few exceptions I like everything in the Sig Sounds catalog and the highlight to me are the individual solo cds by members of Redbird. Kris Delmhorst is the next member of this group to release a solo record. Strange Conversation is her new poetry inspired album with some songs simply well-known poems set to music while others are inspired by poetry.

Stange Conversation refers to the dialog that goes on between artists seperated by hundreds of years, in this case poets and a singer songwriter but it could just as easily refer to literature, art or music that speaks to us through the ages. You can pre-order this June release here.

Light of the Light [Download]

Bonus: Redbird live

I Gotta Get Drunk [Download]

Casey Dienel stopped in recently to the Daytrotter studios to do a quick session. While there she recorded a live version of the song I mentioned a few months back. “Better In Manhattan” is her story of a strippers life in NYC. Also my favorite song from her Hush debut Wind-Up Canarie – “Dr. Monroe”.

Better In ManhattanDr Monroe [Download]


The best dad in the world – David Wilcox (What Are Records?, June 13)

Sunday, June 18th, 2006

I know some people have guilty pleasures but I have that and more with David Wilcox. He’s one of the wimpiest singer-songwriters on the planet but he can also be the most sublime, sometimes all within one song. If James Taylor (with his coke fueled sensitivity) is too much for you, please leave this page now. However if you’re trying to impress a girl or wish to explore you’re inner child please read on.

I wrote about a new song from David a couple of months ago and to prove his earnestness he donated all proceeds to a conflict resolution center. I’m sure he’s a vegan and into yoga. He’s in the middle of a cross country trek in a Winnebago with his family that he details in the blog on his site. But even with all that he still seems like a nice guy ;) The new record, Vista, is out June 13 on What Are Records. You can buy this release now here.

Grateful For Her Beauty [Download]


And the hits keep coming – Tamara Nile (self-released, July)

Saturday, June 17th, 2006

Tamara Nile is obviously inspired by the distant past but from the first few lines of her song “Something Better” I hear more of that early, sunny Poi Dog Pondering sound (when they were still a folkie-hippie-commune fresh out of Hawaii by way of Austin). But she claims her songs are more influenced by early Sonny, Terrie or Brownie Mcgee (whom she gives a shout out to “Something Better”).

Tamara is readying her debut lp so I don’t have a buy link (although you can buy a preview ep at her shows). Her record will be out in July in conjunction with her record release show at The Railway Clb in Vancouver. You can reach her here –

Something BetterTrees [Download]


You’ve heard of Intonation, Lollapallooza and P-fork Music Festival but what about Lisle’s Rural Fest (songs of Richard Buckner, Kelly Joe Phelps etc)

Friday, June 16th, 2006

Rural Fest is happening this year outside of Chicago in Lisle on June 17. The lineup has some of the best in acoustic music. The headliners are Richard Buckner, Kelly Joe Phelps and Leo Kottke but I’m most interested in Paul Curreri who starts the day off at 11:30 am.

Paul’s new record, Are You Going To Paul Currari, is coming out at the same time of the show and the sound of the new record will be what you get at the fest since Are You Going was recorded live in one night this past January.

I was kind of expecting pleasing folk like John Gorka, Greg Brown or Richard Shindell but instead got a lively, retro thing sometimes more akin to rockabilly then straight up folk.

AzaleaIf Your Work Is Shouting [Download]

Bonus tracks from artists playing Rural Fest

Kevin Gordon – Watching The Sun Go DownJon Hasbrouk – The Assisignation of Cousin BrooksKelly Joe Phelps – Hard Time Killing Floor BluesRichard Buckner – A Chance CouncilRichard Buckner – Straight [Download]


A bad case of Americanitis

Friday, June 16th, 2006

I’ve been a fan of Will Kimbrough ever since I heard his first record. As a sideman for Rodney Crowell and others he’s know for his tasteful guitar chops and as a producer he excells at getting just the right sound out of a myriad of clients. As a songwriter he’s able to tackle subjects as diverse as growing old, the soul-sucking corporate world or the senselessness of the war. He’s opted to don many hats on his new release and I think the variety of sounds on the new record, Americanitis, is a distraction but perhaps if they were all the same I would say that I was bored halfway though the 17 track disc.

What I know for certain is that several of the tracks act as thoughtful little 3 minute oasises in a desert of high energy, low-emotional-impact songs circulating the blogs. Here’s “Warring Ways” a bluegrass inspired anti-war song that will go nicely with a number of the other anti-war songs heard recently on Songs:Illinois.

Warring Ways [Download]


Slowcore from Mike Domavich (plus indie folk from Eric Miller)

Thursday, June 15th, 2006

I’m not always as confident in my ruminations and proclamations as it may seem. For me that’s the beauty of My Space, I can find an unknown artist (Mike Dumovich) somewhere on the web (CMJ’s upcoming releases list) and then check out his page on MS and see that he’s friends with Laura Veirs, Mark Pickerel and Jesse Sykes. I think that’ll give you a good feel for his true musical nature. Mike Domavich apparently has a record coming out on Beep Prepared in August, there’s one song up on that site and it’s the tranquil number “Warm Territories”.

Give this song a minute to kick in, at least until the cello near the end and then let me know what you think. I’m thinking perfect slowcore.

Warm Territories [Download]

Beep Prepared has also just signed indie folk singer-songwriter Eric Miller. These songs are from a 2005 ep but I’m guessing they may show up in some form or another on his debut for BP.

I Want To StayHungover [Download]

PS Swedesplease has a new rough mix of a song by Pelle Craleberg. It’s the song (short story!) “Clever Girls Like Clever Boys Much More Than Clever Boys Like Clever Girls”.


New song from Lisa Germano (and new songs from the Michigan band Canada)

Wednesday, June 14th, 2006

There’s only been a few mentions of Lisa Germano’s new record on the blogs (one is from an Israel blog Poptart and the other is the ever reliable I Am Fuel, You Are Friends). I’m quite surprised too since she’s a critic’s darling and also has just been signed on to M. Gira’s label Young God Records. The new record is called In The Maybe World, there’s a free mp3 and it’s delightful (the artwork looks spectacular, that’s the back panel above).

Too Much Space [Download]

With it’s cello, violin, ringing acoustic guitars and somewhat Victorian-era sound the new songs by the band Canada are a nice addition to this post (and your iTunes library). The pr lackey is saying that their debut This Cursed House is Arcade Fire meets Sufjan Stevens. I don’t really buy it though. Maybe Polyphonic Spree meets the flavour of the month… Beirut perhaps. More info here probably. Pre-order this new release here from Quite Scientific Records.

HexenhouseBeige Stationwagon [Download]