Archive for September, 2006

Steve Albini’s latest cause celebre – Phillip Roebuck’s "Fever Pitch"

Saturday, September 30th, 2006


I get a kick out of some of these larger sites (like Idolator) who are so passionate about music from 9-5 on weekdays and then go silent all weekend. Have they lost that passion or can they only write when the carrott is s anice fat paycheck from Gawker, Inc. Anyway….

In a continuing effort to highligh the lost art of vaudvillian cabaret meets circus freak show I bring you the music of Phillip Roebuck. His new record entitled Fever Pitch is due out in October and impossibly was produced by Steve Albini. That in itself is a story worth the price of admission. I mean really, how did the king of noise and founder of Big Black and Shellack get involved with this banjo strumming, bass drum bashing, footstomping one-man-band.

This is not subtle music either lyrically or musically. Phillip strums his banjo like a madman and perhaps like no other; this is not some type of hirsuite Beirut or avantgarde perfomance art. Instead it’s the fulfillment and final evolutionary stage of the sole busker performing on the street for all that will listen; competing with el trains, fire breathing circus acts or the hurdy gurdy organ grinder on the opposing corner. Fever Pitch comes out in October but you can buy it in Europe at one of his live shows or…

Monkeyfist

Here’s a video snippet of his live show (apparently not to be missed)

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"Your MySpace Comments Won’t Save You" by Dustin and The Furniture (plus another song by John Mayer’s (ugh!) new favorite singer Brett Dennen)

Friday, September 29th, 2006


How many songs, films, articles based on the Mysace cult do you think there have been? Few that I’ve seen/heard nail the emptiness and dread I feel trolling through that often vast and meaningless wasteland. Dustin and The Furniture have a new record, Dancing On Nothing, coming out soon on Oh Map Records. If this strange genre called lofi could support singles I suspect the song “Your Myspace Comments Won’t Save You” would be inching it’s way to the top right now.

Your Myspace Comments Won’t Save You

Bonus (and surprisingly good)
Rap Song

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Says John Mayer in Rolling Stone magazine, “I’m really into this kid Brett Dennen, who I heard at the Hotel Cafe in …

I can be a lazy blogger with the best of them. When someone emails you a working ezarchive link to a song from one of your favorite records of the year it’s hard to come up with a reason not to fit it in somewhere. Brett Dennen’s So Much More (Dualtone, Oct 17) is a well produced Jack Johnsonesque California groove record. But unlike some of his contemporaries in that scene he’s not afraid to make a politically or personally challenging statement. I’ve written about him here but never linked to the title track. So here goes. Pre-order here or directly from Brett here.

So Much More

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Videos of two songs from Chris Garneau’s upcoming debut "Music For Tourists" (Absolutely Kosher, Jan. 2007)

Friday, September 29th, 2006


Sometime soon there’s going to be a big push on for the NYC singer-songwriter Chris Garneau. All the usual suspects (Absolutely Kosher and Force Field PR for sure) will be beating down our virtual doors and imploring us to write about this “incredible” new artist. And can you believe it, for once they might be right.

Chris Garneau is a beautiful man-child (I can say that since I’m married and secure with my sexuality!). Physically he resembles an (un)strung-out early 50′s Chet Baker (if that means nothing to you…shame). His music is one part Rufus Wainwright and one part Antony and the Johnstons. The video for his song “Relief” is peopled with trannies and pre/post ops and more lost souls than you can shake a fist at; the song is, in a word, depressing. His new record, Music For Tourists, will be out sometime soon on Ab Kosher. Here’s two songs from MFT and probably the first time in two years I haven’t posted an mp3 (so sue me).

Here’s the You Tube video for the song “Relief” (here it is in an HD version, compatible with iPods):

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Bark, Hide And Horn discover that a stash of old National Geographics can inspire some pretty great songwriting

Thursday, September 28th, 2006


When 7 of a bands top eight Myspace bands are interesting, eclectic and Songs:Illinois regulars (Norfolk & Western, Last Of The Blacksmiths and Dame Satan) then chances are that band’s music will probably share some of the traits of it’s friends and will probably appear in these virtual pages.

Bark, Hide and Horn is that band. Based in Portland the band is a trio that sounds like an octet. Band members jump around on stage switching instruments and beating on any object in the vicinity for percussion. While the band is rooted in folk, roots and blues they’re not afraid to add odd sounds, synths and electronic beats. “This Abdomen” features mournful mariachi horns that conjure up the recent music by Theater Fire. If you do listen to or download “Firefly” you’ve got to give it a good two and half minutes before the song really kicks in but if you stay you’ll be rewarded (with a Violent Femmes guilt ridden musicical tantrum).

Firefly
This Abdomen

P.S. On top of all of the regular wackiness that can be found in Bark, Hide and Horn’s music the inspiration for this new ep and for most of the imagery and characters found in the songs above comes from a stash of National Geographic magazines (circa 1957-1967) the band stumbled upon.

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Jenny Whiteley’s new record "Dear" (featuring Amy Millan from Stars)(Black Hen Music, Oct.)

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

jenny_whiteley_5
Jenny Whiteley is a Canadian singer that I sought out. She’s twice been nominated for a Juno for best roots album. And she has impeccable taste in music and in who she picks to play/sing on her records. Two of the biggest contributors to her new disc are singer-songwriter/guitarist/producer Steve Dawson. For background vocals she’s signed up Amy Millan (Broken Social Scene and Stars).

Years ago Jenny was in a Canadian bluegrass band of some note. However her solo records tap into the a combination of alt-country and occasionally erie indie rock. Not to name names but she does share some of the sensibilities of other Canadian artists like Kathleen Edwards, Christine Fellows and Sarah Harmer.

On her song “Indoor Lightning” she uses both traditional instruments like the banjo and a light coating of electronic and organic fuzz to create her hybrid sound. The disc as whole fluctuates between these two sounds (or ways to create sound) and is an enjoyable ride.

Indoor Lightning

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To hear a song from Steve Dawson’s 2005 record, We Belong to The Gold Coast, click below.

Slid By

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The Capstan Shafts – The Megafauna Undermined (Slight Records, 2006)

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006

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The Capstan Shafts (basically just one guy from Vermont named Dean Wells) seem to have a new release. No one else has written about it and the band doesn’t have a proper website and the label doesn’t have much info up. But it’s called The Megafauna Undermined. It’s as rough as you’ve come to suspect from The Capstan Shafts but if the two songs below are any indication then the album is not meandering lo-fi nonsense but well crafted garage/basement/bedroom rock.

The juxtaposition between these two songs is impressive with “Old Skull” being a kind of revved up lo fi Smiths thing while “Save My Down” spirals out of control into an electric guitar fueled catastrophe. At some point the lo-fi rock of The Capstan Shafts may evolve into the best indie rock you’ve ever heard or sadly it may go the way of Daniel Johnston and Syd Barrett. Try to buy it here.

Old Skull, New Mexico
Save My Down For A Sadder Day

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The Resentments cover "Thirteen" (plus Elliott Smith covers the same song and misc. You Tube videos of The Flatlanders and Jimmie Dale Gilmore)

Wednesday, September 27th, 2006


There are a lot of covers of the song “Thirteen” by Big Star. However none are like this funeral procession by The Resentments. Like that other mythic Texas band The Flatlanders (Joe Ely, Jimmie Dale Gilmore and Butch Hancock), The Resentments are more than just a sum of their parts.

The Resentments is an Austin roots supergroup “led” by John Dee Graham but featuring Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Bruce Hughes, Stephen Bruton and John Chipman. On this song Jon Dee Graham doesn’t even try to hit the high notes (he can’t) and instead makes lines like “won’t you tell your dad to get off my back” come to life with a low down scowl and a smirk.

Thirteen

Elliott Smith covers “Thirteen” from an instore on Sept. 17, 1997:

The Flatlanders on Austin City Limits sing “Wildest Dreams”:

Plus and cause I can’t resist Jimmie Dale Gilmore Thio from 1992 with “The Mobile Line”:

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New live disc from Steve Goodman (the biggest cubs fan ever!)(plus Arlo Guthrie on You Tube)

Tuesday, September 26th, 2006

I missed Steve Goodman. I miss Steve Goodman. I never hung out at The Earl of Old Town. I never heard him sing “City of New Orleans” or “The Dying Cubs Fan Last Request” but I know people who knew him and describe him as a wonderful person and a national treasure. Steve died tragically in 1984 of Leukemia at the age of 36 just as his career was about to take off and his beloved cubs were going to play their first playoff game in decades. His ashes were buried under home plate at Wrigley Field. You can read an extensive bio here and learn how he mentored John Prine, gave Arlo Guthrie his biggest hit and how he so loved the cubs and Chicago.

Few songwriters have added to the mucial cannon as Steve Goodman has. He has written 2 or 3 of the best songs ever. “City of New Orleans” has been called “the best train song ever”, he penned the best country song in “You Never Even Call Me By My Name” and perhaps the best basballe song ever in “The Dying Cubs Fan Last Request”. Red Pajamas (dist. by Prine’s Oh Boy) is a label that is pretty much devoted to the music of Steve Goodman and the songs below are from their new live release Steve Goodman: Live At The Earl Of Old Town. Buy it here.

City Of New Orleans
When The Cubs Go Marching In
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The best You Tube Video I could find related to Steve Goodman is this one of Arlo Gutherie singing “City of New Orleans” (kinda strange though hearing it on piano)

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New unreleased gems and b-sides from The Prayers And Tears Of Arthur Digby

Monday, September 25th, 2006

For over two years blogs I respect and love have been writing about the band The Prayers and Tears of Arthur Digby. I’ve never joined in the fray but always enyoyed them from afar. The band has just released an free online ep that I do want to write about. As a fan of demos and other uncompleted or unpolished rarities this free download is right up my alley. Plus how often have you heard a band use the words conflagration, eternity and heaven in the same song (“Concerning…”).

Usually this is the part of the post where I say buy this “here” but instead simply click here to get it for free.

Concerning The End Of The World

I Am Morris Townsend

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P.S. Hype Machine was down over the weekend and again this morning so you may have missed this post with the new video to Herman Dune’s song “I Wish that I Could See You Soon” or this mornings’s post with new music from Denison Witmer. Oh and now Elbo.ws is down so that group of music geeks will miss this post. Argh!

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New songs from Denison Witmer from "Safe Away" (Militia Group, Oct. 17)

Monday, September 25th, 2006


I guess Denison Witmer’s been compared to both Sufjan Stevens and Jose Gonzalez. There is a Sufjan connection as they’ve played on each other’s records. And the Jose connection makes some sense too since he also is one of the few Americans with a record deal with a Swedish label (Bad Taste). In the US his upcoming record, Safe Away, is being put out by MilitiaGroup Records on Oct 17. I’ve written about him before here and here.

Safe Away is actually a re-release of his debut record recorded in 1998 so he probably predates both those artists mentioned above. The re-release is actually a 2 disc set with the second disc being the Are You A Sleeper? ep. Here’s a song from each; first a stripped down song from the re-release of his debut and next a new song from the ep. If you like your indie folk gentle yet atmospheric, sentimental yet somehow realistic, dreamy but also down to earth then pre-order it here.

Breathe In this Life
Postcard Song

Bonus Neil Young cover

Love In Mind

Denison live in the studio in Sweden performing “California Brown and Blue”

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Schnitzel!?

Sunday, September 24th, 2006


I passed on about 50 major label and larger indie label’s records that are out now or will be out soon to write about Schnitzel. Wht Schnitzel yoo ask. I wasn’t sure myself. After spending more than a few minutes trying to get their industrial strength shrink wrap off I was so frustrated I was tempted not even to put the disc in the player. But when I did I was rewarded with some messed-up, roughly recorded and barley executed americana rawk (see I Rock Cleveland for the complete eptimology of the word “rock” and “rawk”).

An indication of what Schnitzel sounds like comes from their bare bones cd package where they apoligize to Jeff Tweedy, Paul Westerberg, and Tift Merritt. They should have added the Gear Daddies to that list as well (Gear Daddies, anyone? Wisconsin residents perhaps?). These songs are from their 2005 release Southbound Freight and if they were any more complicated I’d feel bad doing such a short post but come on it’s only rock `n’ roll. Buy it here.

Cakeeater
Upstate (pay attention and listen for The Replacements’ chorus within this song)

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The best song of the year just upped the ante with a great video (hint – Herman Dune)

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006


Last week I proclaimed Herman Dune’s “I Wish That I Could See You Soon” the best song of the year (here), the post was picked up by BWE and caused a little discussion in the comments section over my sanity or lack thereof. Now thanks to reader Michael I have the You Tube video of said song. It’s impossibly cute with costumes, angel puppets, scampering kids and bubbles. I love it. This time next week hopefully they’ll pass 200,000 views.

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aaron Stout’s "Queens Live In Casketts" (Monotreme Records, Oct. 1) plus another song from David Barzin

Saturday, September 23rd, 2006


Aaron Stout may not exactly be my cup of tea but his retro phsychadelic rock is well crafted and will appeal to many of you (especially fans of Mercury Rev, Flaming Lips). His new record, Queens Live In Casketts, will be out on Monotreme Records on Oct. 1. “The Coronation” has plenty of reverbed drenched electric guiter, overdubbed vocals and looped electronics. I’m told the rest of the album is full of mostly acoustic introspective songs.

The Coronation

PS David Barzin’s record which I wrote about here is getting a proper US release by Monotreme on Oct. 17. Speaking of introspective, David’s lyrics are so personal and the music so quiet that you truly feel you are holed up in his closet listening in as he sings to himself in a whisper trying not to wake up the rest of his household. Here’s another song from My Life In Rooms available in the US on Oct. 17.

Leaving Time

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Barton Carroll’s new record "Love & War" (Skybucket Records, Oct 17)

Friday, September 22nd, 2006


Barton Carroll’s new record is 5 years old so don’t say I only ever write about new releases. The new/old record is simply called Love & War and comes out on Oct. 17 on Skybucket Records. Barton’s best known as one of the key players in Crooked Fingers. As a solo artist he mines some of that groups psych folk but on a smaller musical scale. The ingredients of which are a quavering voice, finger picked guitar and surreal, often gothic (or perhaps Victorian) lyrics (“your eyes are cradled by shadows”).

An Aquarium Drunkard and Said The gramophone have already said their piece on this record but it’s certainly not been a deluge of praise as of yet. “Small Thing” has not been linked to yet and is said to be the emotional centerpiece of the record. It’s based partly on a book Barton’s mother co-wrote about a girl living in Berlin during the 1945 Soviet occupation. The heartbreaking line “I was a child, I was on the wrong side, I was broken in by broken men with drained eyes, war sleeps deep in a man long after guns are gone, he loses care for small things and I, I was a small thing.” Although written in 2001 and covering the time of WWII, it’s sad to think some Iraqi girl could be thinking some of these same thoughts or experiencing some of these same horrors today. Purchase Love & War here.

Small Things

Crooked Finger’s “New Drink For The Old Drunk” video

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Michael Hall’s "The Song He Listened To When He Died" (Freedom Records, Oct.)(plus new links on the blogroll)

Friday, September 22nd, 2006


(not a current photo of Michael Hall and his band The Woodpeckers, but I love it just the same)

If you want to know what’s going in on in the Austin roots music community there’s a couple places you could turn to for information. Waterloo Records would be a good first stop, and then you could try Antones but if you really want to know what’s happening you could look up “Scrappy” Jud Newcomb. Scrappy would set you straight and tell you to look no further than Michael Hall’s upcoming record.

Michael Hall was kind enough to send me his new cd The Song He Was Listening To When He Died (Freedom Records, Oct) and I’ve got the title track to convince you to buy it from Freedom Records. The title track is below and it breaks absolutely no new ground for either Michael Hall or the music world at large. However I don’t know of anyone who can effortlessly create americana rock that is at once both incredibly catchy and utterly captivating (if a little bit on the negative side). One interesting fact I just learned about Michael Hall is that he was in an early roots band with Walter Salas Humara and Alejandro Escoveda called The Setters. Their records are out of print but if anyone has a song they can email I’ll get it up on the site asap. Anyway Michael’s new record comes out in October but for now is exclusively available through the essential mailorder site Texas Music Round-Up (scroll halfway down the page).

The Song He Listened To When He Died

Bonus live songs from Michael Hall and the Woodpeckers live on KUT

Sometimes I Wish I’d Never Heard the Rolling Stones
In The Crypt With Eleanora

PS I added a couple of sites to the ol’ blogroll. Check out Swoon (and their recent post on the Nashville band The Bees here). Also after much ado I added a link to Pop Sheep, head over their to get an older song from one of the Herman Dune guys.

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Megan Hamilton and David Pico go together like Bush and and the stench of sulphur (new music from each)

Thursday, September 21st, 2006


Megan Hamilton and David Pico just finished up a Canadian tour. I wish they’d have come South to Chicago. They both have new records out and compliment each other well. Megan is a whispy singer but not mousy in any way. Her songs just don’t explode out of the speakers. On “Don’t Ask Me” her hazy whispered vocals are perfect for this tale of the fading love affair and subsequent breakup.

This is not a point counterpoint type post so just because I said that Megan is low key don’t be expecting Shellac when you click on David Pico’s songs from his new release Saturday Night Sunday Morning. It’s just that he’s got a more alt-country, country-rock thing going on.

Here’s a couple from Megan’s new record Feudal Ladies Club.

Don’t Ask Me (Highly recommended)
Prophesy
Harris (Ditto)

Plus a song from David Pico’s Saturday Night Sunday Morning.

Beyond Repair

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Sarah Sharp. Bitch! (plus an attempt by Miss Derringer to prove the adage sex sells)

Thursday, September 21st, 2006


I’m jealous of Sarah Sharp. Ok she’s got a great voice, a killer body and an ecclectic base of sounds for her music. I can live with that but she’s also found time to become a music supervisor (every bloggers wet dream) for indie films and some tv. Maybe if I write about her, some of her mojo will rub off. Her most recent record had a rerelease through Redeye Distribution back in March but I’m just getting to it now.

What starts of as a kinda of sci-fi channel movie of the week theme song morphs in time into quite a nice alt-folk song. “Run” is on Fourth Person, pick it up here.

Run

Apropo spooky animated video for “Run”

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Miss Deringer have an outlaw gothic country kinda sound. Their new record, Lullabies, came out August 8th on Sympathy For The Recording Industry. To keep the “run” theme going here’s “Better Run Away From Me” from Lullabies.

Better Run Away From Me

Video for “Better Run away From Me” (unedited video here)

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New song from the Thomas Matheson Band

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006


Earlier today I wrote about Canadian Leeroy Stagger, I thought I’d follow that post up with a short introductory post on another Canadian band. Thomas Matheson Band is about to release their new full length cd. I’ll call it their debut since their 2003 release was very diy and seems more like a demo or a long ep. Here’s a song from the new record. It’s very radio ready (which I usually see as a negative) but has just enough of a Tom Petty, Jayhawks and Nick Drake vibe to make it interesting. Someone to watch.

Beechill Mercy

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Leeroy Stagger and The Sinking Hearts – "Depression River" (Boompa Records, Sept. 19)

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006


Leeroy Stagger has a name that’s suited for blues stoked roots music. Whether or not his parents did it on purpose his name is a dead ringer for the old blues tragitional Stagger Lee. For an outlaw singer who can belt out the murderesque rockers with the best of em the name is perhaps fitting.

Depression River
is the name of the new record due out on Sept 19 on Boompa records. I’ve been listening to the whole thing and like the diversity of sounds to be found on it. There are rockin’ songs like the title track but there are also quiet folk ballads that serve as a counterpoint. As a whole Depression River is a great listen and I imagine it’s the culmination of a lot of work (this is his fourth cd) and hard living by this Canadian artist.

Pre-order Depression River here.


Depression River

Bonu back catalog

I Break Hearts
Just In Case (featured on Grey’s Anatomy)
Slowly Sinking

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Songs from Dan Bern’s new record "Breathe" (Messenger Records, Sept. 19)

Tuesday, September 19th, 2006


(I almost feel like I should apoligize for posting so much great new music. Sorry no one else is covering this stuff. There’s so much great music out that is not being written about. Eventually (like early November) it’ll quiet down around here as the music industry goes on it’s annual winter break.)

I could be wrong but I think of Dan Bern as a politically motivated songwriter and singer first and foremost. Whether I’m just plain wong or Dan has altered his output somewhat, the fact is his new release Breathe (Messenger Records, Sept. 19) i9sn’t spewing the overt, left-wing, political propaganda that previous releases have had and I’m a little let down about that. I can’t get enough of the Bush bashing, anti-war songs that I have featured here on Songs:Illinois.

As a result Breathe is a more personal record than I would expect from Dan Bern. The title track “Breath” still sounds like a Dylan outake but it is more simply autobiographical than most of that poet’s work. The song is about how you can keep going in the face of everday obstacles. I imagine a lot of artists face some of these same hurdles after they have released several albums and maybe feel they have used up the well of creativity. But for a songwriter of Bern’s stature and skill that well is never completely used up, especially like in the song “Trudy” where he created an entirely new character. Pre-order Breathe here.

Breathe
Trudy

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