Archive for November, 2006

Mat d. & the Profane Saints

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

Mat d. & the Profane Saints hale from Iowa City and their new record came out Oct. 28. It’s peopled with sideshow freaks, hard luck losers, prostitutes and drag queens. Musically it’s got a bad case of hardcore-rockabilly-infused rock `n roll.

Buy small town burning… here.

Ramblin’ Mary Jane WalkerSlideshow [Download]


Martha Scanlan’s "The West Was Burning" (Sugar Hill Records, Feb.)

Thursday, November 30th, 2006

One of the most anticipated debuts in the roots music world for 2007 is that by Martha Scanlan. It’ll be out Feb. 2007 on Sugar Hill Records. I could recite a litany of facts and figures about Martha (she was originally a member of Reeltime Travelers, members of Ollabelle appear on the new record, Martha’s won songwriting contests for her works etc etc) but the song below is pretty self explanatory with it’s syncopated guitar riff, gospel/blues inspired vocals and Martha’s fiddle playing.

The new record and her solo debut is called The West Was Buring. You’ll be able to buy it here soon.

Get Right Church [Download]

Here’s Martha’s award winning song “Little Bird of Heaven” from her days with Reeltime Travelers.

Little Bird Of Heaven (Courtesy of Bob Carlin’s site [Download]

(update: sorry but the servers I linked to can’t seem to take it, so I re-uploaded the songs and they should be easier to download/stream now)


I almost succumbed to peer pressure and posted a great new Tapes`n Tapes video

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Luckily at the last minute I found this video of Mike Gunther instead. I’ve written about Mike Gunther and his Restless Souls here. They are one of the most underappreciated bands in the midwest and their brand of Pentecostal rhythm and blues mixed with klezmer punk is just about perfect.

Walk All Over It (streaming video)Walk All Over It [Download]
(iPod compatible)

Oh and what the hell here’s that Tapes `n Tapes video

Cowbell (streaming video)Cowbell [Download]
(iPod compatible)

These are all taken from the impossibly great site Schedule Two.


Romi Mayes – Canadian "coutry bourbon bluegrass" (plus Antje Duvekot)

Wednesday, November 29th, 2006

Gurf Morlix produced Manitoban singer-songwriter Romi Mayes new (ms) record Sweet Somethin Steady and on it is her unique take on “country bourbon bluegrass”. Due to the fact that Gurf produced this and that she’s a woman singing country songs about booze and boys it’s hard not to compare her to Mary Gauthier and Lucinda Williams. But in both cases the comparison doesn’t quite work. She doesn’t have the gothic despair that Mary clings too nor does she have the ciggarette and whisky huskiness and electric blues that Lucinda favors. However if you were to add her to a mix tape with those two and other female leaders of the new alt-country scene she’d fit right in.

Sweet Somethin Steady was just released in October and Romi will be touring hard behind it, including dates in Texas and the south with Gurf Morlix, Hayes Carll, Sam Baker and Adam Carroll. They say she’s a sight for sore eyes live and in concert, so check her website for tour dates.

Sweet Somethin SteadyDesperately [Download]

P.S. I’ve wanted to write about Boston singer songwriter by way of Germay, Antje Duvekot but have never been able to get permission. As a half measure then here’s the video of her delightful song “Dandelion” as performed at the folk mecca Club Passim in Cambridge, Ma.


New video for Ramona Cordova’s "Giver’s Reply"

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

I love the fact that anyone can now have a video and have a decent chance at having it seen by hundreds of thousands of people. The Italian label Sleeping Star has put a video together for their release of Ramona Cordova’s 2005 cd The Boy Who Floated Freely. The video is of the song “Giver’s Reply” and features little clay marrionete puppets. Enchante.


The Heathens – "Sex In Silent Films" (Post Records)

Tuesday, November 28th, 2006

Some Velvet Blog has covered this band but I’m going to chime in with my two cents. The Heathens make some of the best alt-country punk that I’ve heard. They have a bit of the hardcore country sound of Merle, Johnny et al as well as just a hint of old punk of Camper Van Beethoven. In fact this might be the best band ever to come out of Orlando, Fl. The Heathens released their new record, Big White House, at the end of the summer on Orlando’s Post Records.

Buy their 15 track debut record here from Post Records for only $10 and get one of the sleeper records of the year.

Sex In Silent FilmsBelow The Streets [Download]

Catchy song and cool little video (IPod ready) for what was probably the single from Big white House “Stickin’ Around”


"I don’t wanna be Jar Jar Binks no more" – Star Wars twee from The Bobby McGee’s

Monday, November 27th, 2006

I’ve got plenty of space in my heart for novelty anti-folk, for proof two of my favorite bands of the 90′s were Ed’s Redeeming Qualities and Pianasaurus but not so much TMBG. But I’ve floundered around a bit this decade and haven’t yet settled on a favorite. That may change with the discovery of The Bobby Mcgee’s. This English group that namedrops the Smiths, Top of the Pops and Jar Jar Binks records for the uk label Cherryade.

Of course there’s plenty of ukelele, odd percussion and male and female vocals straight out of the “how to be twee handbook”. And for the piece de resistance there’s a song about Star Wars.

The Best Star Wars Song [Download]


No Friends [Download]


New song from The Berg Sans Nipple (Team Love, Jan. 27)

Friday, November 24th, 2006

Just to keep my critics at bay, here’s a song you might not expect from Songs Illinois. The Berg Sans Nipple are a Parisian electro-pop duo. Their first US release, Along The Quai, is due on January 27 on Team Love. “Mystic Song” mixes off-beat electronic beeps, blips and whirs with a pretty solid beat and poppy vocals (plus some random chanting). Then they added glockenspiel, melodica, trumpet, kalimba, piano and various pedals, amps and machines.

Lots more info here.

Mystic song [Download]


William Elliott Whitmore and Jenny Holston (Erase Errata) – Hallways of Always (Southern Records, Nov. 7)

Wednesday, November 22nd, 2006

I will write about every project that involves William Elliott Whitmore. That’s my pledge to you. They’ll have to drag me away from the keyboard to make me stop (wouldn’t Gerard love to see that). Jenny Hoyston (Erase Errata, Paradise Island) has joined Elliott Whitmore for this ep of distorted country folk.

At times the drone on “Feast Of A thousand Beasts” nearly overcomes the song but it then turns in to a high pitched wail of wind in the background nicely complimenting Jenny’s vocals and William’s sparse guitar.

This 6 song EP is out now on Whitmore’s home label Southern Records. Buy Hallways of Always here.

Feast of a Thousand Beasts [Download]


"There, I Said It" from Tommy Womack (ex Bis-Quits, ex Government Cheese)(Cedar Creek Music, Feb. 20)

Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

There are two kinds of rock songwriters. Those that can create characters that inhabit their songs and those that place themselves at the center of the songs. I tend to connect most deeply with the later. Tommy Womack’s new record, There, I Said It, is an example of the later as it addresses all his personal demons as well as some of the country’s.

Tommy Womack claims to be crazy. Todd Snider confirms it and that’s enough for me. His hobbies include researching the historical Jesus and keeping up with the mob (I’m not kidding). He’s been in a couple influential rock/punk/roots bands including Government Cheese and The Bis-quits. He also plays in bands with Todd Snider and Will Kimbrough. All In all he’s a Songs:Illinois type of guy. I tried to write about his last release, a group project going by the name of Daddy, but couldn’t get permission. So I’m kinda psyched to be writing about this `un.

Tommy Womack’s “Nice Day” and “I’m Never Going To Be A Rock Star” are two of the autobiographical songs that highlight this record. “Nice Day” in particular tells the tale of a 43 year old guy’s dreams and fears. It seems his fears usually overshadow any of his dreams except on this one day when him and his boy get to go swimming at a friend’s pool.

Nice DayI’m Never Going To Be A Rock Star [Download]

Bonus acoustic demo of “Nice Day” from There, I Said It

Nice Day [Download]

Government Cheese’s “Camping On Acid”


Where’s Jason Eklund?

Monday, November 20th, 2006

This is not exactly a regular mp3 blog post. It’s more a virtual call for help. See, I believe Jason Eklund is one of the best singer-songwriters of his generation and at least according to any info I can find online, he’s vanished off the face of the earth. There were rumors of him driving a cab up in Madison around the release of his last record but currently anybodies best guess is that he’s down in Austin. Is he drinking himself to death like Townes or working a two bit ranch-hand job? Or is he just fulfillling his greatest wish in life – to be a roving, homeless hobo in the tradition of Woody et al.

I’m no expert on his music, despite having briefly worked at Flying Fish Records the label that gave him his “big” break by releasing his self-titled 2nd record and its follow-up Lost Causeway. But whether it’s stripped down country blues, or socio-political commie rants, or thoughtful introverted pieces, Jason Eklund had a way with words and for delivering them forcefully to the listener. I wish he’d come back and prove Townes Van Zandt right when Townes said “He’s The real thing, he’ll never retire.” You can buy two of these three records right here on Amazon. So, anyway, seriously if you know Jason or are a friend of a friend check up on him and let him know we’re thinking about him.

From 1995′s Lost Causeway

Motivation BluesWhat’s Left of 66Dreamin About The Keys [Download]

From 1993′s Flying Fish debut

Walk One More MileI Am The Road [Download]

From the impossible to find 1992 release Come and Gone (which features Gurf Morlix on guitar and guests Slaid Cleaves and Darcie Deaville (thanks Rachel)

Rhonda RoseFarmer Ain’t The ManI’ll Never Drink Again [Download]
(w/Slaid and Darcy)


Two songs from Justin Glanville’s debut "Blue Stars" (Near Records, Nov. 22)

Sunday, November 19th, 2006

I was set to write about Justin Glanville months ago when he quietly self-released his debut record Blue Stars. Something got in the way, but now that the record has been picked up for national distribution by Red Eye, I’ll finally write my Justin Glanville post.

Justin’s from the midwest but has been playing around NYC and playing all the right venues (Knitting Factory, Living room and Pete’s Candy Store). Here’s a catchy little guitar and organ number from Justin’s new record Blue Stars (Near Records) plus a song that’s destined to appear on Grey’s Anatomy next season.

Don’t Get me WrongHeadlong [Download]


Scottish/Canadian singer-songwriter David Francey

Saturday, November 18th, 2006

David Francey is a Canadian singer who was born in Scotland. This gives his sound just a hint of British folk combined with contemporary sounds of today’s best singer-songwriters. His 2006 release is a live recording called The First Set – Live From Folk Alley. “Ashtabula” is a song about the urban wasteland known as Ashtabula, Ohio.

You can order any of David’s cd’s

here.Ashtabula [Download]


Waking Hour [Download]
(from David’s Juno nominated 2005 cd Waking Hour)


Everthus The Deadbeat – Addicts Stuck In Traffic (Standard Recording Company, Nov. 28)

Friday, November 17th, 2006

Just for a second pretend you’re reading MOKB, GVB or YANP (linking to the boys in a lame attempt to get these crazy kids a little more pub). Imagine you just read the week in the NFL wrapup or a concert review/preview of some great show in Austin or an anti-Zune review. Imagine you’re sitting on the edge of your swivel chair in the hopes of finding the next big thing. And then imagine you’re reading about this band – Everthus The Deadbeat. They record for the Indianapolis label Standard Recording Company. You now, the ones who first brought you Margot and the Nuclear So And So’s. Anyway back to Everthus. They have a disarming sound that is equal parts the Stranglers, Tilly And The Wall and the soundtrack from The Rocky Horror Picture Show.

A release like this is never going to show up on any of the Tuesday new release lists. So it’s autimatically not going to be mentioned by a hundred different bloggers. It’s not going to sell enough copies out of the gate to appear on any best sellers list and it doesn’t appear that the label has signed up Fanatic or Team Clermont to bribe college kids with swag so they probably won’t make it very far up the CMJ charts. But they should do all of these things. So get your jazz hands out and enjoy these two tracks from the their new EP. Buy their new EP, Addicts Stuck In Traffic, here now.

Trevor Dust The BedsheetsSome Terrys [Download]

Can I just say one final thing and now I’m really gonna sound like Dodge (talkin’ smack about TV). I love The Office. And while it was still a great episode last night the product placements were egregious and blatant. Perhaps they were going fo ironic product placement but it didn’t work. The Staples plugs were relentless and unfunny. It was so clear they went into the writers room and asked to include these plugs in this special supersized episode. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when this was pitched to the producers. I hope they had at least showed a little backbone and put up a good fight.


Double bill/post of Nels Andrews and AJ Roach

Thursday, November 16th, 2006

Last time I wrote about AJ Roach I focused on his Appalachian roots and I assumed he was just another rural folk artist. A commenter on that last post pointed out that he’s actually very high tech since he was partly responsible for the special effects in the Matrix (here’s the proof).

AJ’s new record, revelation, is out now in Europe and will be released in the US in the spring of 07. These two songs are from it. The sound on these two blur the line between indie folk and traditional folk. In fact “Devil May Dance” wouldn’t have been out of place on the Donnie Darko soundtrack somewhere next to Gary Jules’ take on Mad Mad World.

Devil May DanceSears and Roebuck Suit [Download]

Nels Andrews is on the bill with AJ on many of his upcoming European tour dates. Nels is a Kerrville folk fest award winner and made one of the truly great (surprise) roots records of 2004/5 with Sunday Shoes. Here’s a song from that record, what a great double bill!

denim scarecrow [Download]


Chicken On A Raft (Antenna Farm, Nov. 14)

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Chicken on a Raft on Antenna Farm is 1/2 of the band The Moore Brothers (Thom Moore) along with Tommy Carns. The two have a fondness for traditional acapella British folk. They’ve come together to record a cd that features this music in the way it was originally intended.

Here’s a blurb from their bio explaining the project better then I ever could:

Their debut album is a collection of American Traditionals, ballads, and popular tunes that have passed down from generation to generation, each iteration providing it’s own input to the meaning of a lyric and melody. They tell stories of loves lost, political intrigue, and lingering mysteries that are as true and applicable today as when first sung by a long forgotten minstrel.

In an age when it’s not uncommon to have upwards of 15-20 people in a band it’s somewhat refreshing to hear these two voices harmonize together with no other distractions. Not for eveyone of course and thus very brave of Antenna Fram to release this. You can buy this Nov. 14 release here now.

I got Your Ice Cold NuGrapeWhich Side Are You On [Download]


News songs from The Western States and an exclusive first listen to Nathan’s new ep (Nettwerk)

Wednesday, November 15th, 2006

Ok so this band is the best thing since sliced bread. This is Ox, Nathan and any/all great Canadiana bands rolled into one (in fact members of Nathan and D Rangers make guest appearences). The Western States do mid-tempo wilco/uncle tupelo/jayhawks better than mid-tempo wilco/uncle tupelo/jayhawks. Keep in mind that these songs were recorded in lead singer/writer Sean Buchanen’s basement. With a little more polish and flare you’ll be singing these in the shower in no time.

I love the chinkling piano chords that start off both songs and the mellow resonating guitar tones that come snaking out my speakers. These two songs (plus two more on Myspace) are demos of what may appear on a record, that may or may not be recorded some time soon. Get in touch with the band here ( to offer up salutations and well wishes.

Time On My OwnDiane [Download]


This is not an aside or an addendum. I guess you could call this a dual post. In no way should you assume that this part of the post and the band herein are secondary to The Western States. In fact as I said above members of this band are guests on the The Western states new songs. So the band Nathan (here) are a hybrid alt-country/pop/bluegrass band. They record for the excellent Canadian label Nettwerk and are on the cusp of releasing a new ep called Casserole. I assume that alludes to the stew-like sound they create. “Boulevard” is on the pop side of things while some of the songs on their Myspace page are more moody Canadiana. Lead singer Keri Latimer has a voice that is at once timeless and at the same time seems to come from somewhere out on the plains circa 1943. Buy it here.

Boulevard [Download]

Alright here’s the real aside. Swedesplease is running it’s first contest to win the vinyl only U.S. release of Hello Saferide’s Introducing


Spoken word/beat poetry/word jazz from Bobby Byrd and Jim Ward – "How Will We Know When We’re Dead"

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

I don’t write about much spoken word stuff or beat poetry or word jazz (the only other time I can remember is this post on Gerry Mitchell and Little Sparta). But perhaps I should as there’s a pretty big vacuum about it on the blogs. A new project has come to my attention that features the music of Jim Ward (wiki) (Sparta, Sleepercar) and the poetry of Bobby Byrd. Bobby Byrd & Jim Ward’s How Will We Know When We’re Dead is one of those rare times when music and poetry have successfully coalesced. Jim’s music stays primarily in the background as Bobby Byrd’s poems of life along the border, in the barrio and always in and around El Paso come to life.

Bobby Byrd runs Cinco Puntos Press and that’s an excellent place to buy their record.

The Gabachos In the PhotoHe Asked Me How Will We Know When We’re Dead [Download]


News and a song from Rachel Ries and Anais Mitchell

Tuesday, November 14th, 2006

So Rachel Ries and Anais Mitchell played recently in my living room as part of an intermmitant Songs:Illinois house concert series. The show is still reverberating with my family and I, as well as some of the complete strangers we welcomed into our home. We were graced with many new songs from both artists including songs from Anais upcoming release on Righteous Babe. But none of the songs were as powerful as the new one from Rachel Ries which she has just uploaded onto her My Space page.

“Grace The Day” is a song about finding new meaning in one’s life when the person who held any meaning has left. The answer according to the song is to find “another way to grace the day”. This is a demo but it’s an exceptionally beautiful one with excellent sonics (you can hear Rachel clear her throat occasionally). You’d be foolish not to buy Rachel Ries’ For You Only here.

Grace The Day [Download]

PS Anais Mitchell’s signing with Righteous Babe is now official and a song from her Feb. 2007 release, The Brightness, is now streaming on My Space. The song “Hades and Persephone” comes from her upcoming production of Hadestown a new folk opera she has produced based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.


New music from Emily Barker and Erin McKeown

Monday, November 13th, 2006

Emily Barker is a Western Australian roots performer whose limited-edition, debut record, Photos.Fires.Fables, has just come out. Emily’s been touring the UK pretty much since her debut performance in 2003 at The Cambridge Folk Festival and she has picked up a lot of admirers along the way. She’s got a disarmingly warm voice, one that is instantly appealing and accessible. Add her tasteful (at times gorgeous) arrangements and you’ve got a pretty impressive debut. This’ll be a difficult one to pick up in the states but you can try ordering it here through SmartChoice Music.This Is How It’s MeThe Suitcase [Download]

Also Erin Mckeown is following up her successful record We Will Become Birds with another disc out in January on Nettwerk. It’s the slightly retro sounding Sing You Sinners. The song “Melody” has just enough of that 20′s swing thing that I like so much. Plus if you have A.D.D. you’ll be able to sit still for the whole song as it’s only 1:40. You can preorder this January 16, 2007 release now here.

Melody [Download]