Archive for August, 2006

New feature (plus a little more honkey-tonk from Dale Watson)

Thursday, August 31st, 2006

FYI I joined the 21st century and added a little flash radio player to both Songs:Illinois and Swedesplease. It’s a pretty neat bit of coding that allows you to listen to all the songs on the sites instantaneously also you can separate the player from the blogs by clicking on the little boxes in the lower right hand corner.

As an addendum to the earlier honky-tonk post here’s the reigning king of that genre Dale Watson.

Whiskey or God [Download]

Plus and just for kicks – The Derailers

Cold Beer, Hot Women and Cool Country Music [Download]

Both courtesy of Palo Duro Records

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The Parson Red Heads plus a new one from TK Webb (The Social Registry, Nov. 21)

Thursday, August 31st, 2006


The Parson Red Heads seem happy, genuinly happy. Their sunny California folk-pop is in direct contrast to the dingier, darker freak-folk of Devendra et al. It actually seems to be a rebellion against that scene. The band acts like a family (not your dysfunctional family!) even going to the extent of naming band members with cute nicknames. As you can see from the photo this is another one of those large bands, they’ve even added a new member. So expect their sound to only improve and grow.

The song below is from the 2006 ep release Field Mouse Carnival (the west coast blog

Fabulist beat me to the punch with this band but “Burning Up The Sky” is exclusive to Songs:Illinois). The band is already readying a full length followup entitled King Giraffe; both the ep and the new one will be available on Yukon Records. Expect even more handclaps, beautiful backing vocals (consisting of some combination of oh la la), and a fuller, more produced sound.Burning Up The Sky [Download]

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Now back to the other coast and the lower east side’s own TK Webb. I’ve written about TK before (and his oddball label The Social Registry) here. TK has a new record coming out November 21st called Phantom Parade. The title track from it hints that it’ll be something special. Phantom Parade has been called psychedelic americana which is fairly accurate as TK Webb infuses his music with blues, country and 60′s era musical drugginess. You’ll be able to order this soon from here until then email them and beg – jamie@thesocialregistry.com.

Phantom Parade [Download]
(highly rec’d)

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Honky-tonk Wednesday! (Jim Lauderdale, South Austin Jug Band, Mike Stinson and Crooked Still)

Wednesday, August 30th, 2006

Considering that the year is 2006 and not 1959, I feel like I’ve been inundated with honky- tonk country of late. One of the people partially to blame is Jim Lauderdale. Jim’s pulling a Guns and Roses type thing by releasing two albums simultaneously. Also I finally caught up with the band South Austin Jug Band and also received Mike Stinson’s Boronda Records disc Last Fool At The Bar as well as being given permission to write about (and link to an mp3) from Signature Sound’s band Crooked Still.

First up is Mike Stinson. I was introduced to his music by the producer and label honcho over at Boronda after my write-up of Tracy Huffman. Mike has been called “the uncrowned king of the L.A. Neo-Honky Tonkers” and also been recognized by Dwight Yoakum and Billy Bob Thornton (both have covered his songs). Here’s the title track “Last Fool At The Bar”.

Last Fool At The Bar [Download]

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Next up in this little honky tonk roundup is Jim Lauderdale. Jim’s got the gall to release two separate records on September 19 on Yep Roc. The big country two stepper is called Country Super Hits Vol 1 (the other is simply titled Bluegrass). Since this is a post on the more electric, beer drinking, bar hopping and whisky soaked country I’ll focus on Super Hits for now. You can preorder both his new records from the Yep Rock home page here.

Honky Tonk Mood Again [Download]

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Finally and a little belatedly is South Austin Jug Band. This Austin band’s name is a misnomer in fact as they are far from a traditional jug band. From the looks (and of course the sound) of the band they’re out to mix a little of the jam scene with the acoustic country and bluegrass of say Hot Club of Cowtown. Their most recent record Dark and Weary World came out in 2005 but they caused a stir at this years SXSW so I knew I wanted to share them with you.

Karma [Download]

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Crooked Still is a young band playing traditional mountain music. This is not the country music of Nashville but instead the music that sprung up in the hundreds of coal towns that were created in the Appalachian region in the early 1900′s. This music is like the blues in that it celebrates the bleakness of life through it’s lyrics but musically is a joyous combination of folk, gospel and bluegrass. Crooked Still’s new record, Shaken By A Low Sound, is out now on Signature Sounds and can be purchased here.

Can’t Hear Me Callin’ [Download]

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Kids music from The Hairy Beasties (Jon Langford, Kelly Hogan, Sally Timms) plus Cari Lee & The Saddle-ites

Tuesday, August 29th, 2006


If there was enogh support from the various labels I swear I would start a third blog with just kids music. Some of the best artists of our time have grown up and propagated and thus become interested in entertaining the children in their lives. TMBG, Dan Zanes and now The Hairy Beasties have recently added their own take of what kids music should sound like.

The Hairy Beasties are Jon Langford, Kelly Hogan, Sally Timms and Devil In a Woodpile, the new record is called Animal Crackers. The song below is what it would sound like if “Where The Wild Things Are” came to life as a song. This is made for childen (and they’ll love it) but I think the adults in their lives may like it even more.

Buy it at

this special page and get some baby onesies for cheap.Wee Hairy Beasties [Download]

UPDATE: There’s also a video for the song “Toenail Moon” by Sally Timms, click here.
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Cari Lee and The Saddle-ites new record is just good clean fun. Can’t say that about much else in this world today. This is music from a different time and she performs it lovingly and stays true to the form. There can’t be more than a handful of bands in the world playing this music to such a high level.

They’re calling it “rural bop” but you could call it western swing, urban hillbilly pop or any number of things. The new record, Brought To You Via Saddle-ite, is out now on Startone Records.

From Monday On [Download]

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Fuck Will Oldham…Literally; "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror" by Jeffrey Lewis (Rough Trade, Sept. 5)

Monday, August 28th, 2006


In Europe I guess the new release from Jeffrey Lewis is old news. But Rough Trade America just decided to release this NYC anti-folk star’s record City and Eastern Songs. Artistically Jeffrey is a split personality spending time and working in both the visual arts and in music (actually in both mediums at the same time when he sings along with his comics). He’s still an outsider artist even when that term no longer has as much meaning since the dominant culture is killing off all truly submersive artists with it’s incessant and virulent capitalistic practices (ie the Walmartization of America).

The song below is not for casual listening. It raises many of the questions being raised by blogs about indie culture; like what it means to be a success, how does that effect the music, how long should an artist struggle to achieve what degree of success, if successful how do we deal with the inevitable backlash and finally the temporary (inferior?) nature of modern music vs. the permanence (and superiority) of music from the preceding rock generation – Dylan, The Stones, Neil Young etc). Here’s a song that somehow answers some of those questions and manages to name drops Camus, Dylan, Milton, Ginsburg and of course Will Oldham (and even turns that last encounter into a violent-homosexual-rape-fantasy).

Williamsburgh Will Oldham Horror [Download]

Here’s Jeffrey Lewis and his brother and the video for the song “Posters” (also from City and Eastern Songs)

Finally a You Tube performance of “As I Wandered `Cross The Land” performed on the streets of Paris

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Hi-N-Dry weekend (ex-Morphine) plus a song for Ashley from Hazmat Modine (Barbes Records, Aug 29)

Sunday, August 27th, 2006


Jabe is another artist off the roster of Hi-N-Dry (Billy Conway’s label; ex-Morphine). Impressive music from this small Boston Label. “You Can’t See The Stars” has a serious Neil Young/John Cougar Mellencamp music-from-the- heartland vibe. Lyrically though it reminds me of countless sad drinking songs in the AMC songbook.

Both Hands On The WheelYou Can’t See The Stars From Inside the Bars [Download]

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(Editors note: Ashley was a little disgruntled that Blitzen Tapper displace the Jewish gypsy blues of Hazmat Modine the other day. Ashley I hope you’re still out there and enjoy this.)

Hazmat Modine are probably the coolest NYC band you’ll never read about on an mp3 blog. I’m not really sure why either. Their blend of klezmer-gypsy-blues should be all the rage inthis age of Devotchka scoring a major motion picture. They play instruments that you’ve never heard of, and I’m sure their live show is a dance party, their new record is out on August 29 on Barbes Records. You can buy the new record here.

Bahamut [Download]

Bonus video of Hazmat Modine on Russian TV

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Americana from Frenchman Bruno Green

Saturday, August 26th, 2006


Bruno Green is a french born singer songwriter that has become an adopted son of Billy Conway’s (Morphine) Hi-N-Dry label and the robust americana scene in Boston. He counts his friends and collaborators as Rose Polenzani, Sessions Americana and 16 Horsepower. His trilogy is called The Blue Void Trilogy and the most recent release is entitled Father and Son.

This new record is the last in the planned trilogy which serves as a sort of an overview of the american scene. What sets this music apart are it’s roots in americana combined with it’s European sensibilities (background chorus, poetic lyrics and a Nick Cave sort of Franco- German vibe). Buy the three cd trilogy here.

Every Thought In MeBlue Is My Mind [Download]

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The best unsigned band in America – Blitzen Trapper (plus Trainwreck Riders)

Friday, August 25th, 2006

blitzentrapper_bikes
Goddamn I didn’t want to write about Blitzen Trapper today. I was going to post some amazing, freaky-folk kids music or maybe some wild, blues-based, Jewish gypsy music (plus live footage from a Russian TV show). Damn Blitzen Trapper, damn them to hell. I first wrote about them here. Now they have sent out a 5 song sampler disc of an unreleased album in the hopes of stirring up interest in their music.

When I say best unsigned band in the America and I don’t mean to lump them in with the old definition of that phrase. You know where some big media company in conjunction with Coke, Pepsi of Bud runs a contest to determine what lame ass (yet highly professional) band can win free studio time, a new Tascam mixer and a crappy recording deal with some low-level major label imprint. By best unsigned band in the world I mean better than and deserving to be signed over and instead of Cities, Secret Machines, The Rosebuds et al. I mean a band that once signed with proper distribution will be critically acclaimed and a popular success.

I haven’t even said what the band sounds like yet sorry. While the songs I’ve linked to, especially “On A Dime”, sound like the frantic pop-rock all the rage at the moment under the surface of the songs are undulating electronics, barely audible harmonies and analog fuzz. Other songs on the limited edition 5 song sampler run the gamut from instrumental spaghetti westerns to alt-country ballads (subverted with erie pedal steel).

On A DimeMaybe Baby [Download]

Bonus

Summertwin [Download]

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Trainwreck Riders may be the most mellow band to have ever been signed to Detroit’s fiery garage rock label Alive Records. Their song “Christmas Time Blues” off of their upcoming record Lonely Road Revival is mid-tempo alt-country perfectness. There’s no release date yet but apparently you can get it by emailing here- mailorder@bomprecords.com.

Christmas Time Blues [Download]

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New song from Kamikaze Hearts (Collar city Records, Sept. 26)

Thursday, August 24th, 2006


The band name Kamikaze Hearts (wrote about `em here) conjures up images of hearts soaring into the sky and then crashing to the ground in fits of suicidal rage as they are inevitably broken. The music is rather frenetic as well. From one song to the next on their new record Oneida Road (Collar City Records, Sept 26) textures change, shadings blur and songs either creep along or are propelled by a driving beat and frenzied mandolin, banjo and acoustic guitar strumming. The band has added much to their sound since their debut including keyboards, electric guitars, voice choirs and more.

“Top Of Your Head” is a great example of the new sound as it starts out with just acoustic guitar and voice but then builds as strings, drums, and noisy, thumping guitar are added to the mix. The new record, Oneida Road, can be purchased here though Collar City.

Top Of Your Head [Download]

PS The swedish band Hanif has given Swedesplease an exclusive preview of it’s new album Lord Jesus Christ Baby.

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Fuck Was I

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006


This song is old news as it came out in 2005 but it’s just been featured in the premiere of Showtime’s Weeds. I like cello in the beginning, the sweet way Jenny sings the chorus (“what the fuck was I thinking?”) and the surprisingly dark nature of this seemingly innocent little love song. Jenny Owen Youngs is indeed young and I think a little naive (despite the potty mouth). She wants to be a big star and rock out to millions like her NJ brethen Jon Bon Jovi. I wish her luck. Buy Batten The Hatches here.

Fuck Was I [Download]

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Rex Moroux’s "Royal Street Inn"

Wednesday, August 23rd, 2006


“I’ve been a drunk, a lover, occasional liar, sweetheart, asshole, unemployed troublemaker, raconteur, bon vivant, wannabe Teddy boy, wannabe Bob Dylan, and on occasion a pretty goddamned good boyfriend.”

Rex Moroux sent me his new disc. No not Fanatic Promotions or Team Claremont or Spectre or the label or the pr company or anyone else for that matter. It was sent by Rex and it had stamps on it. Not a postage from a machine but actual stamps, birds I think. That shouldn’t mean that much really, I mean it’s the music that counts right? But it seems that the bands that have the money to hire some of these promotion companies also lack just a little bit of the soul of a truly independent artist.

Rex is from Lafayette, La. but currently resides in Austin, Tx. You can hear a touch of the swamp from the Gulf Coast and a little of the dust from Texas but also the pop of California (where he also spent some time) in his music. “Extended Stay America” may be the most upbeat song on his new record, Royal Street Inn, with it’s driving beat, twinkly piano and 60′s organ sounds. Buy it here.

Extended Stay America [Download]

Bonus song

Cincinnati [Download]

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Kelley Mcrae hits the road (Chicago, Nashville and Washington, DC)

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006


Kelley Mcrae is playing one of the most intimate venues in Chicago this Wednesday the 23rd when she appears at Uncommon Ground. If you’ve heard her music on Songs:Illinois or read some of her recent press, it would behoove you to get out to this show. Her song Johnny Cash is just one of the many great songs on her new record Never Be out now on Sonablast Records. Buy Never Be here or at the show tomorrow night.

Upcoming shows in Louisville, Nashville, Knoxville,Washington, Dc and New York (A Celebration of Nick Drake at Joe’s Pub). See Kelley’s MySpace for more info.

Johnny Cash [Download]

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Loch Lomond’s new record "Lament for Children"

Tuesday, August 22nd, 2006


Loch Lomond is from Portland and travels in the same circles as Laura Gibson who I wrote about last week. Their new record, Lament For Children, is out now. Lead singer Ritchie Young shares some of the odd vocal eccenctricities as Colin Meloy from The Decemberists. There’s a slight lilting English accent in the song “Bird and a Bear” as well as references to “porcelin spoons”. Instruments include saw, mandolin, banjo and cello so you know that I’d like it. How `bout you?

Buy it here for $10.

Bird and a Bear [Download]

PS New songs from Swedish brothers Boy Omega and Book Of Daniel over at Swedesplease.
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New song from Tara Jane ONeil (plus Greg Kot on Touch and Go records)

Monday, August 21st, 2006


Interesting article in the Chicago Tribune on Sunday (registration required) by Greg Kot about how Touch and Go has made it all these years (by being honest and fair).

The four multinational conglomerates that dominate the record industry have reported declining sales for several years; executives blame illegal Internet file-swapping for their ills. Yet Rusk says the Internet has afforded fans an opportunity to hear music more adventurous than anything on commercial radio, and it has leveled the playing field for independent labels and the bands they champion. “All the major labels are whining about how the Internet is killing their business,” Rusk says, “and we and a bunch of other independent labels I know just had two or three of our best years ever.”

Of course Tough and Go has a sister label called Quarterstick, I view the distinction between the two as sort of noise rock vs chamber pop. That may not be accurate but that’s my impression. It’s furthered by the atmospheric, textural sounds off the upcoming Tara Jane ONeil record In Circles coming out on Quarterstick in September.

Scheduled for September 12, In Circles seems to return TJO to a more songs orientated release and away from some of the noisier soundscape projects she’s done in the past. Here’s one song from this fall release. Pre-order it here.

Blue Light Room [Download]

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Vulpine Records’s A Pale Blue (plus Sea of Is and Beija Flor)

Sunday, August 20th, 2006


There’s a small little label that I’ve never heard of that seems to be releasing some great music. The label is Vulpine Records. The label is based in Calgary Alberta and favors a kind of epic carny opera sound. The three bands on the label are Beija Flor, Sea of Is, and A Pale Blue.

A Pale Blue is the band that has struck a chord with me but you may want to check out each of these bands. AM Gold is the debut record from A Pale Blues’ main man Brock Allen, it’s due out in August but can be purchased through Vulpine’s distributor Sonic Unyon now.

Clementine [Download]

Sea of Is –

Go It AloneBeija Flor – Miss May [Download]

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Our Lady Of the Bells

Saturday, August 19th, 2006


Our Lady of the Bells are an eclectic little indie folk band from Western Mass. I expect they’re all full time students at one of the liberal (and I mean “Liberal”) colleges or universities out near Amherst. I think part of the reason I like this band is that they trade off vocals between jules and Geoff. This creates two different distinct sounds, one (Geoff) a hushed soft- spoken folk and the other a more assertive …

The new record, Forgetting The Way Home, came out in April and is available here.

Here They All PretendAdeline [Download]

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Debut record from Please Step Out Of The Vehicle (Lucky Madison, Sept. 26)

Friday, August 18th, 2006


I’m not hip. In fact my hipness quotient is zero. But I can fairly accurately predict the sound that the hip kids are going to go nuts over. It’s the sound of Please Step Out Of The Vehicle and their new record Sleeping Right And The Best In Homeopathic Medicine (Lucky Madison Records, Sept. 26).

This is an incredibly sophisticated debut from a very young band that outside of the Portland area hasn’t received any press. They’re an indication that the self-produced, diy band can create music as captivating and with as much staying power as that of The Flaming Lips, Mojave 3 or The Radar Bros. Let me be the first to say that “Pitch” is pitch perfect (just couldn’t avoid that!) with it’s allusions to dinosaur dreams, forests and oceans. “We Will Go Everywhere (Pt 1)” is a short piece that starts out harmlessly enough but ends in a complete cacophony of noise rock resembling some of the frenetic noise Violent Femmes’ songs sometimes spiraled into. “Pt 2″ picks up where the beginning of “Pt 1″ left off and together they become the centerpiece of the album. Pre-order this release now here.

Here’s the lineup and tell me that all things being equal that’s not a potentially perfect mix of instruments:

David – drum, flute
Travis – sing, guitar, moog, keys, songs, sampler
Chris – fuzz bass
Seth – farfisa, melodica, glokenspiel, keyboards, percussion
Liam – trombone, acoustic guitar, sing
Justin – slide guitar, percussion

PitchWe Will Go Everywhere (Pt 1)We Will Go Everywhere (Pt 2) [Download]

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Graham Lindsey’s "Hell Under The Skull Bones" (August 15, Spacebar Records)

Thursday, August 17th, 2006


A relatively unknown and unsigned artist named Graham Lindsey had the best song on a recent Bloodshot Records 11th anniversary record. He wasn’t and still isn’t signed to Bloodshot but he regards them as friends and thanks them on his most recent disc, Hell Under The Skull Bones, that will be released in the US August 15 on Space Bar Records.

I can’t say it much better than Uncut when they reviewed the European version of the record: “Fiery folk-blues-twang, augmented by notable cameos from Van Dyke Parks, pedal steel whizz Greg Leisz and ex-Captain Beefheart guitarist Morris Tepper.”

Elly BlyDeath Trip BluesMP3, Music [Download]

Paul Burch’s new record "East To West" (Bloodshot Records)

Wednesday, August 16th, 2006


Paul Burch has a great essay on the Bloodshot Records site about this new record and the vagaries of the music biz as well as the difficulties recording and creating music. I’d recommend you go visit and read it if you need a little inspirational pick me up. But in brief it says how three people gave him the will to continue with music and the recording of the new record East To West. He thanks Ralph Stanley, John Peel and Mark Knopfler. Here’s an excerpt:

So–there you have it. The business can go to hell and it probably will, but Ralph, Peel, and Mark live on. I don’t know if I could have made this or any other record without them. If it only sells five copies, I know three great voices stepped forward to say ‘don’t stop,’ probably because they’ve been there. I hope I can do the same for somebody else sometime.

I’ve only heard this one song but with song titles like “John Peel”, “Little Glass Of Wine” (w/Ralph Stanley) and “Before The Bells” (w/ Mark Knopfler) it’s a pretty safe bet. Pre-order here through Amazon.

Montreal [Download]

P.S. More news from I’m From Barcelona over at Swedesplease if you can believe it it.

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Lullaby Baxter’s back (plus Tim Easton’s new song "Jesus protect me from your followers")

Tuesday, August 15th, 2006


Lullaby Baxter is back after a five year absence. Her debut in 2000 on Atlantic Records had critics and fan all a twitter. But she soon disappeared, fell in love, had a child, and wrote a book. She’s back now and her new record, Garden Cities Of To-morrow, (Boompa, Aug. 22) seems to fulfill all the promise of her debut.

She hired (then fired and then re-hired) the production duo Hercules to produce her followup and what sounds like a lot of work later (recording in Vienna, Tokyo and Rome) and the use of a flute quartet, Wurlitzer, and mellotron she has resurfaced with her lounge pop style intact (somewhere between Holly Cole and Madeline Peyroux). Buy it here.

Rattled Little Clam [Download]

From the debut Capable Egg

Knucklehead [Download]

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Tim Easton’s record, Ammunition, was released in May. An eternity ago in mp3 blog terms but still relatively new in the real world. New West has released another song from this record to sample and it’s one I missed on my first few listens to the record. Buy Ammunition here.

J.P.M.F.Y.F. [Download]

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