Archive for January, 2007

Charlie Parr has failed at most things….

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

Shit! Charlie Parr has a new record. Now I’ve gotta figure how to write about him once again. Fuck it…I’m going to take the easy way out, here’s what Charlie says about himself:

Charlie Parr has failed at most things in his life. Music seems to have rendered him unemployable and is the only thing he’s ever done with any confidence. A lot of folks have been saying nice things about Charlie, despite the lingering odors and indecipherable comments he makes. It says a lot about folks; they’re hanging in there with him, in spite of himself.

I’m just glad I can occasionally say something nice about Chalie. Buy his new live record, Backslider, here.

1922Prodigal Sun [Download]


Missed opportunities – Diana Jones, Danya Kurtz and Michael Weston King

Wednesday, January 31st, 2007

I like to think I haven’t missed much great music from 2006. Sure there’s some I didn’t write about (couldn’t get permission, oversaturated on other blogs, and some that just didn’t fit the Songs:Illinoiss’ mission). But Diana Jones’ record is one that I just spaced on. Not sure how it happened too since her song “Pony” was nominated for a Folk Alliance Award, her 2006 release My Remembrance of You was praised by my hometown paper of record (The Tribune called it the # 1 record of the year), and she got glowing reviews in BBC 2, Sing Out! and No Depression.

Here’s the sweetly melodramatic childhood song “Pony”. It’s hard not to think of Lyle Lovett’s song “If I Had A Pony” even if the subject matter of the songs are completly different. Buy this cd here though Diana’s label NewSong Recordings.

Pony [Download]


I guess today’s a day for near misses. Here’s two more that nearly fell through the crack – Danya Kurtz and Michael Weston King.

Danya Kurtz –

Nola [Download]

Michael Weston King –

A For Song [Download]
(Townes cover)


"Jesus On A Greyhound" by Mark Fosson (New Light Entertainment, Jan. 30)

Tuesday, January 30th, 2007

I had my choice from at least nine saved drafts in Blogger lined up for today’s post. But they’re all on hold since Marc Fosson finally got back to me with his song “Jesus On A Greyhound”. Marc had critics (Rolling Stone, Mojo, Uncut, The Wire) creaming in their pants last year when Drag City released his long-lost-Fahey-produced-sessions which came to be known as The Lost Takoma Sessions.

I haven’t heard that instumental material but I can vouch for the more literate folk country blues that Mark released in 2005. “Jesus On A Greyhound” is the title track and it is a perfect story song about the return of Jesus and his trying Greyhound bus ride. Buy all of Mark Fosson’s music here at Amazon.

Jesus On A Greyhound [Download]

Double your Jesus fun with “Don’t Shoot At Jesus” over on Swedesplease.


New from Nathan Oliver (rec’d if you used to like The Shins) plus another song from Chris Garneau’s lovely "Music For Tourists" (Ab Kosher, Jan. 23)

Monday, January 29th, 2007

Nathan Oliver is a NC guy (working on a Dental degree!?) so it’s no surpise he hooked up with a couple other Carolinians to make his debut record including Lee Waters of Work Clothes, Matt Maccaughan (of Portastic) and Mark Lebetkin (on Viola). His debut record’s out now on Pox World Empire (sounds a little more grand than it actually is) and despite comparisons to The Shins I like it.

No one’s writing about it yet so I decided to squeeze it in on Songs:Illinois.

State Lines [Download]


If Chris Garneau (here) has a female style counterpart in the indie rock world I’d say it’s Regina Spektor. Chris deosn’t nearly mix in the type or quantity of beats that Regina is capable of but these two NYC singer-songwriters both deliver operatic pop that is just so cool. Chris’ record came out yesterday and the label has released another song to the www. It’s called “Baby’s Romance”. Order Chris’ Absolutely Kosher Records’ debut Music For Tourists here.

Baby’s Romance [Download]


French indie (ukelele) pop from David Scrima (plus some pretty stunning drawings of Herman Dune)

Sunday, January 28th, 2007

I can count the number of times I’ve written about French music on one hand. What is it about contemporary French music that is so uninspiring (although I could be wrong). I stumbled upon David Scrima’s (MS) art/music the other night and liked what I saw in his drawings and heard from his new record. “L’Air De Rien” has just enough poorly recorded ukele, angelic backing vocals and symphonic sounds to pass for Sufjan’s long lost French sessions. What do you think?

L’Air De Rien [Download]


Comme Avant [Download]


Honky-tonk Friday – Jonathan Byrd’s "The Cocaine Kid" (Self-released, March 20)

Friday, January 26th, 2007

Jonathan Byrd’s new record This Is The New That has a song called “The Cocaine Kid” which features some of the same witty banter you’ve come to expect from Todd Snider. The song is a talking country/blues thing. Jonathan won multiple awards at the folk festival in Kerrville on top that he’s a friend of Anais Mitchell’s and refuses to wear Birkenstocks. That puts him on my good side.

Jonathan has once again signed up the Athen’s band Dromedary to join him on the new record. The addition of this rockin’ duo makes these songs come alive in a way that many folky singer-songwriters can’t (or shouldn’t) do alone. Buy Jonathan’s new record here or here.

The Cocaine Kid [Download]

Bonus track “Velma” from his debut Wildflowers

Velma [Download]


Darla Rose on American Idol (I wish!)

Thursday, January 25th, 2007

Darla Rose is cute. I don’t mean her looks although she is that too. It’s her music, it screams cute. Her voice is sweet. It’s retro in some indescernible way, her lyrics at once seem to refer back to a simpler time and at the same time use clever little topical turns of phrase. I’ve been bouncing back and forth between her two downloadable samples (here) from the new record trying to pick a winner and have come up with a tie. The production on “I Tried” may have edged out “Number One” but they’re both winners.

Just once I’d like to see someone like this on American idol, I’m curious how the judges would react to someone who has real talent, is slightly quirky and would no doubt pick an interesting song from the 1940′s to interpret. Man what a breath of fresh air that would be, huh.

I Tried [Download]


Cara Loft’s (Wailing Jenny’s) new record – The Light Fantastic

Wednesday, January 24th, 2007

Cara Luft’s upcoming record The Light Fantastic is currently being finished, it’s in the process of being mastered. Cara is one of the co-founder’s of the Canadian roots supergroup The Wailing Jenny’s and a prominent solo artist in her own right. She’s been selected to showcase at SXSW 2007 and one of her new songs will be placed in an upcoming episode of the Candian TV show Renegade Press.

I’ve got one of the songs from the upcoming record, it sounds great to me but it might be an unmastered version. “There’s A Train” is a blugrass inspired AAA ready song in the mold of Allison Krauss, Mindy Smith and Nickel Creek (RIP). Keep an eye out for The Light Fantastic in early 2007. Join Cara Loft’s “fan club” here to preorder the new record.

There’s A Train [Download]


New song from The High Llamas (Drag City, Feb. 14)

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Drag City very quietly added the new song from The High Llamas upcoming record Can Cladders to their homepage. Despite being one of the larger indie labels, Drag City doesn’t seem to be playing the same promo games that all the other middling indie labels do (chronicled here yesterday). I think the quality of their releases and the respect the label garners allows them some leeway when it comes to blatant, in-you-face online promotion. Anyway “Winter’s Day” is a fine little pagan folk/soul song (think XTC meets Julian Cope).

Looks like you can preorder it here though

Winter’s Day [Download]


Revival – Horses Of War (Gypsy Eyes Records, Feb. 20)

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

I gotta tell it to you straight. I started typing as soon as I saw the name of the band, title of the record and the cd artwork. But once I heard the opening bars of “Fog Rolling In” I knew I should continue. Revival is the band. The new record Horses of War is out on Gypsy Eyes Records in February.

Revivial is Josh Read and Evan Berodt. Evan has toured with Jay Farrar. Together with drummer Noel White they make an interesting stew of quiet ballads and raging operatic anthems. This is the second Gypsey Eyes record I’ve written about in the last three weeks, check out everything they’re up to here.

Fog Rolling In [Download]


The Infamous Stringdusters (Sugar Hill Records, Feb. 13) + Cadillac Sky (fyi…progressive bluegrass)

Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007

Remember the hubbub created by the O’ Brother soundtrack, the subsequent tours and then explosion of new grassy music a couple of years ago? Well, a lot of that has passed on but the bands that make this their lifeblood are still out there playing county fairs and bbq’s. The Infamous Stringdusters are one such band and the lads happened to have been discovered by Sugar Hill. They have their debut full length, Fork In The Road, due out in Feb. 2007 on Sugar Hill Records. Preorder here.

Here’s the title track.

Fork In The Road [Download]


It was impossible to resist posting these two songs from Cadillac Sky off their debut record for Skaggs Family Records. For one, these two songs go together perfectly with “Fork In the Road”. Secondly, the band features a couple young virtuoso type pickers and have that progressive bluegrass sound down pat. Finally, I was just alerted that the new record is out today. Buy Blind Man Walking here.

You AgainBorn Lonesome [Download]


Kim Barlow – "Champ" (Jericho Beach Music, Feb. 20)

Monday, January 22nd, 2007

Like any blogger I get a lot of music sent my way. Most of it by pr companies, larger indie labels and occasionally by one of the majors (what are they thinking?). Most of the releases I receive are listed on one of the many “upcoming releases” lists you can find scattered about on the web. I know many bloggers consult InSound’s list or Metacritics or CMJ’s or if they’re truly desperate Billboard’s. The number of releases that are left off these lists is staggering and for me it’s these releases that are the most interesting.

For example how about a cd from the upper Yukon by an artist named Kim Barlow. Kim writes quirky little songs and accompanies herself on guitar, banjo, autoharp, glockenspiel and the occasional whistle. The record was produced by Jordy Walker who has also worked with Canadian singer-songwriter Christine Fellows. “But He Don’t” is a nice unrequited love song using many variations of the phrase “but he don’t” to wonderful effect. Don’t go looking for this on any of the upcoming release lists I mentioned above. You can order here now from Jericho Beach Music.

But He Don’t [Download]


Pony Camp [Download]


David A Jaycock (from the Big eyes Family Players)

Sunday, January 21st, 2007

I rarely post on Sunday but sometimes there is music that screams Sunday morning. This song is from David A. Jaycok’s first solo outing called The Improvised Killing of Uncle Faustus and other Mythologies. It’s being released as a limited edition of 250 copies on the British label Early Winter Recordings. Tremelo Study is a contemplative mostly solo guitar piece that packs an incredible emotional charge for such a minimalist instrumental piece

Tremelo Study [Download]


Jaimie Shuey’s "Wrong Girl" (Boronda Records, Jan. 31)(Honky-tonk Friday continued)

Friday, January 19th, 2007

A picture’s worth a thousand words don’t ya think. In this case it’s a picture of Jamie Shuey. I’m feeling rustic americana, front porch stuff plugged in with soul. Jaimi Shuey’s Wrong Girl is a Charlie Mcgovern production for Boronda Records from his Big Ol Studio located somewhere in California. Charlie has developed his own studio sound by choosing talented young artists and surrounding them with the most complimentary players in the California americana scene (including Don Heffington, Kip Boardman and Danny McGough). I’m guessing it’s stocked to the gills with enough analog gear to make a man weep.

When comparing Jamie to her peers I’m not even going to mention that other by product of LA (LW?!). These songs remind some of Iris Dement but I also hear the early gospel of Wanda Jackson and the country sounds of Loretta Lynn. On the title track “Wrong Girl” Jamie laments the fact that her man has picked the wrong girl while a wurlitzer swoons in the background. Wrong Girl is due out in January on Boronda Records, buy it here now.

Wrong Girl [Download]


Red Heart The Ticker’s "For The Wicked" (Philly’s best Pt. 2)

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

I’ve just begun to hear about the Philly based band Red Heart The Ticker. Traditional radio (remember them?) has given them some love, most recently on `XPN and on January 27th they’re scheduled to appear in person on KEXP.

RHTT are a du0 made up of Robin and Ty. They recorded For The Wicked in a post and beam barn right next to the log cabin they hand built. They take turns on lead vocals giving each song the sound of whomever is front and center. On “Co-Cart Thrills” Robin’s vocals call up all her influences from Linda Rondstadt to Maria Muldauer. For The Wicked came out towards the end of 2006 but with touring and radio appearences scheduled for the first part of 2007 you’ll probably be hearing more from Red Heart The Ticker. Buy it now from Miles Of Music.

Go-Cart Thrills [Download]


Cynthia G. Mason’s "Quitters Claim" (High Two Records, Jan. 23)(Philly’s best Pt. 1)

Thursday, January 18th, 2007

Cynthia G Mason is one of the unique voices coming out of Philadelphia. With a post like this I should really consult the experts at WXPN for the inside scoop on Ms. Mason. But what I’ve learned on my own is that she is a critic’s darling in Philly. She’s been compared to Cat Power and Suzzanne Vega. Quitter’s Claim is her sophomore cd and is being released on Jan. 23 on High Two Records.

Her silky smooth voice is put to good use on the nearly whispered track “Like A Lifer Out For Good”, it’s a perfect compliment to the Faheyesque guitar lines that weave in and out of the song. If you pre-order this new release now here it’ll only cost you only $10. After the release date it goes up to $13.

Like A Lifer Out For Good [Download]


Ben Ross IIII

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

I think it’s safe to say Halifax’s Ben Ross is obsessed with drums, percussion and banging on any/all surfaces. It was only after I enjoyed listening to his new song “More Now Than Then” that I learned what a terrific drummer he is (multiple awards, arts grants and nominations to his credit). But the song is a vehicle as much for his singing and idiosyncratic songwriting as it is for his drumming (although all the cool percussive effects are a thrill).

This is the fourth and last in a series of eps that Ben Ross was working on. Now he’s doing a soundtrack to a film and has started working on his full length debut due winter `07.

More Now Than Then [Download]


New song from "Green Blues" from MV & EE with the Bummer Road (Ecsatic Peace, Jan. 21)

Wednesday, January 17th, 2007

I’m intrigued by MV & EE with The Bummer Road partly because all the heavy hitting critics have been down with their scene for years and I’d never even heard about them. And partly because aside from the fact that they live on a farm/commune in Vermont there’s not much info on the group online. Thurston Moore’s been quoted as saying:

Green Blues may be the ultimate and most genuine artifact of what the media has proffered as Freak Folk as it not only makes manifest all that is desirous of said scene but, in true nature goes well beyond any known parameters as such. An already classic and legendary move.

To sum up all of the criticism I’ve read to date about the new album Green Blues would be fairly easy: the new record is the crowning piece of a puzzle the band has been working on for years. It has retained the outlandishly avant leanings of prior work while lending the songs enough structure to exist as seperate entities. Entities that cover a bazzilion (sp?) genre influences from acid rock to folk to blues to hazy psychedelia.

Here’s “East Mountain Joint” from the upcoming record Green Blues. Preorder it here now.

East Mountain Joint [Download]


Hotel Alexis’ "Goliath, I’m On Your Side" (Broken Sparrow Records)

Tuesday, January 16th, 2007

Hotel Alexis‘ debut record was pegged as americana because of it’s use of pedal steel, vibraphone and mellotron. Now with their sophomore release, Goliath, I’m On Your Side, they’ve expanded from the confines of that genre tag and have created a more minimalist, experimental sound made up of lyrically and musically repetitive phrases.

“Cold Diego” features the whispered vocals of leader Sidney Alexis. This “soft” song reminds me of music from films like Donnie Darko and Lost In Translation, which means that it creates an atmospheric mood musically and lyrically is deceptively simple yet obtuse allowing for multiple interpretations much like those movies themselves. Preorder this January release here now.

Cold Diego [Download]


Roddy Hart’s "Bookmarks" (Compass Records, Jan. 30)

Monday, January 15th, 2007

Roddy Hart released Bookmarks in the UK this past fall. It’s a confident debut of a record. Roddy apparently didn’t want to wait `til his third release to get some guests on his records and has scored Kris Kristofferson, Eddi Reader and members of the band Trashcan Sinatras on his debut. Somehow I missed out on posting about Roddy Hart during my two UK themed weeks but now that his record is being released stateside by Compass Records on Jan. 30 (pre-order here) he’s free game.

Roddy’s getting all the typical comparisons that a fledgling US singer songwriter might get (Dylan, Ryan Adams, Tom Petty, even Springsteen). But since he’s from from Scotland I think it’d be wiser to compare him to a Van Morrison or Teddy Thompson. On “Flames” he showcases both his way with words and his blue eyed soul arrangements.

Flames [Download]

2 songs live in session