Archive for July, 2006

Kieran Kane/Kevin Welch/Fats Kaplan – Lost John Dean

Monday, July 31st, 2006

A long time ago Kevin Welch and Kieran Kane put the communal good in front of selfish pursuits and formed the musical collective known as Dead Reckoning Records. Ever since their names have been synonymous with this label, band and support system. For awhile they snubbed the music industry and released their music themselves but recently they’ve signed up the help of the fine roots label Compass Records to help their music get into the hands of reviewers, club owners, festivals and stores.

Kevin Welch and Kieran Kane have teamed up with Fats Kaplan on their new release, Lost John Dean, and like everything I’ve ever heard from these guys it is top notch. In this case the instrumentation is primarily acoustic like their other solo and duo releases but the addition of multi-instumentalist Fats Kaplan has added a bit of voodoo spice. This is old timey music that resonates with age old stories of sinners and their ilk.

Satan’s Paradise [Download]

Buy it here.

Fats Kaplan creates his own music along with Krista Rose at the Pulp Country site. Here’ their song “Maloney Road” named after the road where Krista grew up in Southern Illinois.

Maloney Road [Download]


Damien Dempsey’s Irish folk-rock

Sunday, July 30th, 2006

Damien Dempsey is an Irish singer songwriter writing about some of the sociopolitical problems in Ireland. In that way he’s been compared to Bob Dylan but I would add Woody Gutherie and Billy Bragg as well. This may seem offensive to some but Damien is really Irish, he doesn’t hide his accent and as I said he addresses the problems in Ireland much the same way Sinead O’Connor has. In the song below from his new record, Shots, he talks about St. Paddy’s day and is honest and forthright. He also uses traditional Irish instrumentation as well as keeping a more acceptable rock sound.

So think a more political Waterboys or a less romantic David Gray. In the US he has just recently been signed to United For Opportunity. You can buy Shots here as a digital album or a cd.

St. Patrick’s Day [Download]


"Bury Me In My Headphones" – a sentiment we can all relate to

Saturday, July 29th, 2006

Dane Tucquet is an Austrailian folk artist whose austere vocals reminds one of Tom Waits, M.Ward and the Mountain Goats. His deep delivery and echo-laced music is at once spooky and divine. His new record, Bury Me In My Headphones (a sentiment we can all relate to), is out now although I can’t quite get a handle on where you’re supposed to buy it. Contact Dane here – for more info on ordering.

Little Black WheelsBury Me In My Headphones [Download]


Ukelele’s are the new black (or pink…whatever)(Uni and Her Ukelele or my attempt to get picked up by Boing Boing!)

Friday, July 28th, 2006

Uni And Her Ukelele has a goal. And it’s to be the best damn opening act in the world. I like humble people and attainable dreams. She also wants to free the Unicorns and spread pixie dust all over the world…I can’t get with that one.

These are fairly simple songs from a freaky performance artist, to see her live with all her sparkles and fairy outfit is probably the best way to hear these songs. I’d call it twee but it’s too damn weird and openly sexual for those kids. These two songs are from her new record My Favorite Letter Is U available now on CD Baby. She just got written up by LA Weekly (and I couldn’t have said it better myself, although maybe I did?)

“Consider the ukulele — which, roughly translated, means “jumping flea” — developed in Hawaii by way of Portugal and wielded ably now by Uni, a petite and soulful singer who is to wacky sexiness what the nitroglycerin dot is to firecrackers. Channeling the spirits of Tin Pan Alley and Joni Mitchell, she’ll unveil songs from her new album, My Favorite Letter Is U (Unicornbread), with her electrified ukulele, Sally Luka — think B.B. King’s Lucille, but with the personality of a fierce kitten. If all you know about the ukulele is Tiny Tim or that kid on Google Video who rips through “Classical Gas” on his uke, you owe it to yourself to have your mind properly blown forthwith.”

My Favorite Letter Is USean [Download]

P.S. If this doesn’t get picked up by Boing Boing I don’t know what the hell will!!


Laura Gibson’s upcoming record (Hush Records) plus news of PDX Pop Now!

Friday, July 28th, 2006

I’m excited to be able to give you a sneak peak at the upcoming record by Laura Gibson. She’s in the final stages of mixing the record and will release it on the wonderful Portland label Hush Records in November. So remember this name, you’ll be seeing it again in the fall. Her upcoming debut record is titled If You Come To Greet Me and was recorded in part by Norfolk and Westerns Adam Selzer with area musicians like Rachel Blumberg, Peter Broderick and Adam Selzer at Selzer’s portland studio Type Foundry.

I hate to say this music suits it’s northwestern environs because when I see this written on other blogs I just gag. But in this case it’s true – her music has a dark, dreary, rainy day sound but it also is the sound of the forest (her dad was a forest ranger) brimming with new life. On this song she sounds like another quote on her site in the “sounds like” section: like an old jazz singer, and a wide eyed kid.

“Hands In Pockets” features Laura’s delicate nylon stringed guitar playing as well as her lovely vocals and what I imagine are Adam Selzer’s production flourishes (banjo, odd percussion – almost like keys of a typewriter, brushed drums, piano and muted trumpet). Preview two more songs on her MySpace page and buy her 2004 debut ep here.

This is a beautiful, near perfect introduction of a new artist. “Hands In Pockets” will be on the new record but was taken for this post from the new 2 disc compilation PDX Pop Now (this fest is free and it’s this weekend in Portland). The disc features Mirah, The Blow and Colin Meloy among others. Great stuff!

Hands In Pockets [Download]


An aside: I haven’t had time to digest this but on first and second listens I think you’ll like these songs from Tim Williams upcoming ep The Merchant Heart on Dovecote Records. If Jeff Tweedy records a solo record I expect it’ll sound a bit like this.

The NovelI Am Wearing It [Download]


Howe Gelb and Scout Niblett do a medley of "I Want Candy/I Know What Boys Want/Who Do You Love/Not Fade Away

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

The other day when I was writing about Nick Luca I came across a compilation put out by his label called Graciousely. The proceeds of the disc go to help those musicians affected by Hurrican Katrina. There are unreleased songs by Calexico, Devotchka, Steve Wynn and Robyn Hitchcock and many more. I went for the Howe Gelb and Scout Niblett duet but you might go for something else entirely. The disc is available now on the Funzalo Records website here or through Amazon here.

I Want Candy/I Know What Boys Want/Who Do You Love/WhoNot Fade Away [Download]

Bonus song from Howe’s Thrill Jockey release Sno Angel
But I Did Not


Nick Luca (Funzalo, August)

Thursday, July 27th, 2006

Nick Luca has a new record out on August 22 on the label Funzalo. I wrote about him here first but you can pretty much throw everything I wrote at the time out the window as he’s grown some since then, adopted a new more power pop sound and added some special guests to the new record.

Nick’s vocals on this record, Sick Of Love, have more of an edge and musically there’s a bit more crunch to the arrangements. This is what the band sounds like live so it’s nice to have it documented on disc. The special guests include M Ward, Calexico and Howe Gelb. You can buy this here soon.

MelodySick Of Love [Download]


Live songs from Jason Collett (Broken Social Scene)(w/Feist)

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

Schedule Two has updated their site with a live set from Jason Collett. It includes my favorite song of his “We All Lose One Another”. Also included is “Hangover Days” a duet with Feist. Here’s the link to the entire set that you can download as a zip.

We All Loose One AnotherHangover Days [Download]


The total inanity of half-year top ten lists or why Blood Music’s Sing A Song Fighter! (Static Caravan, August) would be near the top of my list

Wednesday, July 26th, 2006

It’s half year top 10 list time again (urgh!) and as you can imagine all the same old bands are represented on everyone’s “indiecorrect” lists. If I had to compile such a list for 2005 Blood Music’s Sing A Song Fighter! would have been near the top. And the beautiful thing about great-hard-to-find imports is that they eventually get reissued abroad. So to start my list off for 2006 I’d add Sing A Song Fighter! again, as it’s been picked up for wider release by Static Caravan (Darren Hayman, Tunng).

It’s funny but at the time I declared this a “great” record (here and here) I’d only heard a handful of songs (even I have a hard time getting a hold of a small self-released Swedish pop disc). Also at the time I knew little of the history of the man behind Blood Music. I have since learned that Karl-Jonas was a founding member (along with Jenny Wilson) of the band First Floor Power. On top of that for much of the time before and during the recording of this record Karl-Jonas was either having brain surgery or recovering from brain surgeries. All of this only enhances the already stunning music on Sing A Song Fighter!

There’s not much more I can say about the music of this band. Read my earlier posts if you’re really interested in prose but if not just check out the songs below. The new song I’ve linked to is called “It’s A Party” and it may seem a little Jens Lekmanish to you and you’d be right. In fact here’s what the man himself said about Blood Music: “Karl-Jonas has made the song, I’ve been trying to write for ten years now”. It seems like you can pre-order this disc now or even download the entire thing here.

It’s A Party [Download]

previously linked to songs (don’t miss `em)

There Is A War In Every CountryHair [Download]

P.S. Boy do we need “There Is A War In Every Country” now more than ever.


Shane Bartell is working the blogs (Sarathan Records, July 25)

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

I wrote about Shane Bartell last month. I like his style. If you’ve been paying attention you’ve seen his little banner ads on many of the most popular mp3 blogs (not mine though – no ads!). He’s now appearing on a Filter sampler that’ll soon be in every $1 used cd discount bin in the country. His new record, Too soon To Say, is out on the NW label Sarathan Records and can be preordered through Amazon here.

Here’s the atmospheric rawk track “Crashlanding” which reminds me a little of Syd Matters thus why I like it!

CrashlandingHarris Park [Download]

The original song I was groovin’ on…

Don’t Believe [Download]


Exclusive track from William Elliott Whitmore’s Song Of The Blackbird (Southern Records, August 29)

Tuesday, July 25th, 2006

William Elliott Whitmore’s new record, Songs Of The Blackbird, will be released in August by Southern Records. I’m happy to bring you this exclusive first look from this Songs:Illinois favorite (here). It’s not like the new record sounds drastically different from his earlier work (in fact there’s been a recent re-emergence of writing on his earlier records here and here). I mean there’s not much you can do with his amazing and powerfull voice. But at least on “The Chariot” there’s a fuller instrumental sound as his acoustic guitar and banjo have been fleshed out with piano, drums, bass and most importantly organ.

I’m sure it’s no accident that William’s music often conjures up names from the past (Hank Williams, Johnny Cash et al). On “The Chariot” William references Johnny Cash’s “Will The Circle Be Unbroken” as he sings “and the circle was broke before I could speak and now all my faith is gone.” You can get this now here as an import or pre-order it here from Amazon.

The Chariot [Download]


When Robots Rule The World – No They Do (Vermillion Music)

Monday, July 24th, 2006

There’s a bunch of blogs that have the word robot in their title or robot-themed artwork but I really don’t think there are many mp3 blogs that have linked to as many great robot songs as Songs:Illinois. I’d like to continue my run of robot songs with “Small Machines” by No They Do (Vermillion Music). Their new record When Robots Rule the World is a concept record that consists of a collection of songs gathered from the robot communities of North America.

“Small Machines” is told from a robot’s perspective and deals with his wants and desires namely “20 amp fuses and a circuit breaker”. Unlike many other songs from this growing themed genre No They Do have a more melancholy and sad sound that personifies how the band must think robots feel. I know it sounds weird but so did Farenheit 451 when it was first published. Buy the disc here or here. Stream more songs here.

Small Machines [Download]


Dave Insley’s "Here With You Tonight" (plus the video for Tracy Huffman’s "California")

Monday, July 24th, 2006

A lot of music comes in the mail but it’s the music that I search out for myself (and harass the artists in question) that either means the most or has the most immediate viscereal impact. It took a couple weeks but I finally tracked down Dave Insley, begged for a copy of his disc and then received it in the mail. Here With You Tonight is his new record and it features a mix of honky-tonk, americana and Joe Ely inspired mexicana.

Dave’s a road hog and that’s one of the reasons he was hard to get in touch with. Check out his tour dates in California and the southwest over the next couple of months. The song I selected from the new disc is the one with a special guest (Rosie Flores) but it’s also the one with the purest southwestern sound (again sounding like the best of later day Joe Ely). “South of the Border” is the song and the sound. The records out in August but you can pick it up now from Miles of Music here.

South Of The Border [Download]

Bonus track from Dave’s 2005 solo debut – it’s got that real honky tonk sound

There’s Gonna Be A Few Changes Around Here [Download]


Last week I featured Tracy Huffman’s song “California” and it’s still stuck in my head. The label also has a weird little video for the song here.


New indiepop from Terribly Empty Pockets and Patience Please

Sunday, July 23rd, 2006

Terribly Empty Pockets have an ep called Get Wet coming out some time in August on the excellent Ohio based indie label Columbus Discount Records. I like the Feelies like crazy rythym guitar strummings mixed with Talking Heads keys and percussion mixed with the Psychadelic Furs twee-d out vocals of the lead singer on the song “Boys Club”.

Again not your usual Songs:Illinois fair but I couldn’t resist. Pre-order the ep here. RIYL (according to the band) The bats, The Smiths, Bow Wow Wow, Nick Lowe and The Wedding Present.

Boys Club [Download]

Bonus early demos:

ChristineSweet When You Were Young [Download]


A lost post from a couple weeks ago:

Patience Please is the band and the attitude you’ll have to adopt while waiting for their debut record to come out on Jigsaw Records sometime in September. This Seattle pop band was formed Ray Proudfoot and Keenan Davis but also includes Chris Macfarland who is the founder of the pop juggernaught website Indiepages. All told I’m guessing these guys have listened to thousands of hours of indie pop, twee and anti-folk. They site as references and inspiration the bands Superchunk, The Weakerthans and Elvis Costello. They’d like to join your cd collection and be filed somewhere between The Pastels and Pavement.

Here’s a couple of demo’s I expect will appear on the June release.

Little MouthfulsUnpublished [Download]


Beth Thornely’s delivers mainstream alt-everything on My Glass Eye

Saturday, July 22nd, 2006

Beth Thornely will have her new record out nationally in August. Beth is a singer-songwriter who mixes styles like americana, indie rock and just plain eclectic. Since the demise of Alanis Morrisette and Sheryl Crow’s move to a more conservative, mainstream sound, I wonder who will step in and fill their shows (or even if Clear Channel will allow it).

Beth Thornely would be a pretty good bet as she is shooting for mainstream acceptance/popularity and has already had songs featured on Felicity, Dawson’s Creek, Scrubs and Roswell (RIP) so she’s already on her way. “Double Wide” is about a woman whose summer job has lasted 27 years and is stuck in a bad place but dreams of more. Kick start her cd sales for this new record by ordering your autograped copy of her sophomore release, My Glass Eye, here.

Double WideHome By Now [Download]


Nick Castro’s "Come Into My House" (Stange Attractors)(appearing at Schubas on July 23)

Friday, July 21st, 2006

I was this close to writing about Nick Castro’s last record, 2005′s Further From Grace. Somehow it slipped my mind and found itself at the bottom of a substantial stack of cd’s. Since I just wrote about his California compadres (Christian Kiefer and …) this time I’m going to get to Nick Castro and the Young Elders . His new record, the orchestral-psych-folk opereta, Come Into Our House, came out at the end of June on Strange Attractors.

Have you ever thought of certain bands as being part of one religion or another. The Cold War Kids would be catholic with their repressed anger, The Decemberists would be the reserved Protestants and the Mountain Goats would be all Zen. That leaves the pagans and that’s exactly how the new record from Nick Castro sounds. It resonates earth motherly goodness. Sitar, percussion, and ancient asian sounds percolate to the surface to go along with the vocals that would be at home in a 1960′s commune. Time has cetainly left this artist behind, fortunately it also left behind a whole raft full of other neo folkies and their fans. Usually on Songs:Illinois the lyrics are at the forefront but on this post you’ve really got to lower the lights, plug in that lava lamp you still have from your dorm room and chill to these otherwordly sounds. Here’s “Winding Tree”. Nick will be at Schubas on July 23rd with Charlemange.

Winding Tree [Download]

Sun Song (from Further From Grace)Unborn Child (w/In Gowan Ring [Download]

Bonus tracks of bizzare indie-psych-folk from Charlemange

(We Are) Making LightPink And Silver [Download]


If You Lived Here, You’d Be Home

Friday, July 21st, 2006

I probably got tipped off to Bob Hillman from the great online cd store Miles Of Music. Bob’s new record, his third, If You’d Lived Here, You’d Be Home must have just come out. Bob’s been the opener for a bunch of major acts including Bruce Springsteen, Suzzane Vega and Dave Alvin.

I like everything about these two songs but I guess it all starts with his voice which reminds me mainly of Chris Stamey. Musically this new record fit’s perfectly in the AAA format and is good enough to be played on the XRT’s XPN’s and KBCO’s of the world. Hopefully it will be.

Buy it here.

My Satanic FriendsCelebrating Nothing [Download]


Last Town Chorus covers "Modern Love" and Eleventh Dream Day tackles Joy Division’s "Isolation"

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

The Last Town Chorus is basically Megan Hickey of Brooklyn. She plays the lap steel and sings in a angelic voice. Her new record, Wire Waltz, is due out in September on Loose Records and will feature this cover/re-imagining of Bowie’s classic “Modern Love” (featured in Grey’s Anatomy).

Modern Love [Download]
Studio version from upcoming record

Eleventh Dream Day’s is/was one of the best bands to ever come out of Chicago. Forget The Pumkins, Liz Phair and Urge Overkill. This is a live track w/Tara from Antietam joining the reformed band on stage last year (courtesy of Carrot Top Records). Here’s their cover of Joy Divisions’

Isolation [Download]


“Do You Really Want To Hurt Me” [Download]
by Last Town Chorus

As you can see this is a covers post. The covers post/blog is a new trend in mp3 blogging. I’m not on the bandwagon as of yet but I’m throwing stones at it trying to get it to slow down so I can hop aboard.


Bosque Brown

Thursday, July 20th, 2006

There are some performers I have every intention of writing about each and every release they put out. Bosque Brown is one. I first wrote about her here with the release of her debut record Bosque Brown Plays Mara Lee Miller. Her new record, Cerro Verde, is a one sided lp that deals with the flood caused by Hurrican Katrina and it’s aftermath on her family.

As far as I can tell this is an actual piece of vinyl, besides the promo cd’s that were shipped out, this is a vinyl-only release (it comes with a cd copy though). As of right this instant it’s not available for sale yet but I’m guessing if you contact Burnt Toast Vinyl they’ll be able to send you out one. I like that Bosque Brown has a hint of twang (notice the cowboy boots) but is more accepted by the Damian Jurado’s and the Denison Witmer’s of the world. She has little in common with the freak folk scene as she can carry a tune and has a wonderful if slightly unusual voice. So she kind of slips through the genre cracks and is her own unique artist with in this case a singular vision to write about the tragedy that engulfed her family.

Tell Her [Download]


Tracy Huffman’s "Ever Notice A Crow" plus tidbits (Catbird Records, Niobe, Pernice Brothers)

Wednesday, July 19th, 2006

I’m completely bowled over by what I hear from Tracy Huffman, his new record Ever Notice A Crow and the Californian label Boronda Records. I mean honestly it’s as if a truck rolled right over me. The song “California” alone totally negates the recent article in the New York Times claiming alt-country/roots rock is dead. That this roots-rockin-americana sound is coming out of the land of overdubs and backrubs (L.A. just so you know) is even more astounding. Click here to read the producers notes on the recording of this album and it’ll all be revealed how they got such a great raw sound. Here’s a couple crucial quotes:

There’ no layered guitars, Tracy is in the left speaker Glen is in the right. At one point during “The Crow” I quit playing notes and picked up a beer can and ran it across the bass strings to make barnyard noises. Tracy didn’t flinch.

Tracy wanted to show us this song, “It’s Alright”. I had a tamborine laying on the floor and as Tracy was showing us the song, Mike stepped on the tamborine and clapped his hands. Tracy was singing into one of the drum kits microphones. That ended up being the recording on the record. That was the first time Mike and I ever heard the song.

“Sumptum like that”, that was Tracy’s statement after every take. The band didn’t know the songs and Tracy didn’t want to play them more than twice or so. So that was it. Here it is, “Ever Notice A Crow” the new album by Tracy Huffman.

The record is ragged and right and this sample from it is pure sonic bliss. You can buy it here now from Miles Of Music and it’s no surprise that they’ve deemed it an “It’s A Cracker” release which means if you don’t like it for any reason you can return it. With all that I’ve written so far I feel like I haven’t even said anything about the song “California”. Besides the quality of the lyrics and the vocals, it’s the lead guitar of Glen Serba (Badfinger/Comander Cody guitartist) that puts this in the sphere of classic americana bands like The Wild Seeds, The Silos, The Jayhawks or even the Counting Crows (on their best day!). So buy it here.

California [Download]


I love the little extras that sites like Catbird Seat, Chromewaves and Said The Gramophone regularly add to the bottom of their posts. I hope you enjoy these tidbits as much as I do.

-For some reason it’s only been the foreign blogs writing about Niobe. A band that is a strange mix of Billie Holiday and Portishead. Find out more at Tomlab.

-The Pernice Brothers have a song up from their upcoming record. All you need to do is visit their site and sign up for their newsletter email. I haven’t even heard it yet but let’s just assume it’s typical Pernice goodness.

-Speaking of Catbird Records they have their new release ready for sale from the London band Tap Tap. I’m sure it’s great but even better is the new system Ryan devised to compensate the artist. Besides any money the band will get from cd sales Catbird has also added a little checkbox to click that will give a $1 tip directly to the artist. Cool!

Tap Tap –

100,000 Thoughts [Download]