(You Tube Saturday got bumped by the last installment of Real Indie Rock. You Tube Saturday should be back next week.)
I feel compelled to write about Vermont’s greatest musical export Capstan Shafts if only because no one else is. If he was half as mysterious as Jandek, as produced as Jason Molina or as cute as Bright Eyes this guy would be more than just a cult artist.
The new cassette (22 tracks with handmade packaging for $5 with $1 going to the Vermont Food Bank) is out on Fall Of The West and is entitled Dreamilys Throttled Revolts.
Editor’s note: Shit, I may have three posts up today. I have to complete my little ode to “Real Indie Rock” (see below) and also post Honky-Tonk Friday. There’s a ridiculous amount of great music out at the moment – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!
Baby Control is more punk than you. They’re more indie than you. In fact they hate you. At least that’s what the end of “Best War” sounds like. `Til they hit that crescendo at about the two-minute mark you wonder why the dude at the label writing the bio even mentions the word punk. `Til then they’re the Ramones with a small chick singing. `Til that moment when it all falls apart they’re one of the dimes in the dozen. This Vancouver super(punk)group is so d.i.y. that they don’t have a website or even a MySpace page yet. They do have a label though and an upcoming record called Best War. It’s out on July 31st but you can order it now here.
The house concert went well. Thanks for asking. Chris Bathgate was cooler than I could have imagined. He had some high-tech gizmo’s that he used to loop both his guitar playing and his vocals. In essence letting him sing harmony with himself and play lead and rhythm guitar parts at the same time. The Spares were just as I imagined they’d be: wonderful.
One of the most interesting pieces of information I came away with at the end of the night was that apparently I booked the best band in Michigan for my little “Songs:Illinois Presents” thing over at Cal’s on July 6. Chris couldn’t say enough good things about the band Frontier Ruckus from Ann Arbor, he really feels they’re the next big thing out of Michigan (if you consider the band Canada to be the last big thing). I knew their demo’s sounded great but apparently their new EP (I Am the Water You Are Pumping) and their live shows are amazing. From the photos on their site and the songs on their EP we can expect lots of instrument switching, musical saw, pedal steel and more banjo than you can shake a stick at. So if you can please come out to the show at Cal’s on the 6th say hi to me (and my buddies/co-presenters Big Rock Candy Mountain and Can You See The Sunset).
The lineup couldn’t be better and Cal’s is a cool little dump. I’ll have more to say about the show next week.
Here’s “Adirondack Amish Holler” from Frontier Ruckus. This song isn’t the mp3blog-ready, 3 minute, percussion dominated, simple chorus followed by simple chorus, novelty tune you’ve come to expect to hear on the dominant indie rock blogs; instead it is a 6 minute, sprawling song; riddled with images of decay, war, dust bowls and death.
P.S. It’s fun to see “the little label that could” known as ECA Records grow from a label that took a chance on Ramona Cordova and released a cassette only EP by Kay Kay And His Weathered Underground to grow into one of the neatest indie labels in the whole scene. Now they are prepared to unleash the new record (debut?) Tonight from Jason Anderson. This does have all the makings of a blog hit with rousing chorus and hand claps (even going as far as having a little bit in the middle where Jason speaks of himself in the third person). This has a bit of the good part of Polyphonic Spree and Bruce Springsteen mixed with the high energy mojo of I’m From Barcelona. The best part is you can order the record now for $5 (postage paid)(well in advance of it’s August 21st release date) and receive it in the mail a week before street date.
Luke Temple’s upcoming Mill Pond Record’s release Snowbeast has the best 1,2,3 punch in recent memory consisting of “Saturday People”, “Serious”, “Owl Song”. In fact if you take out the little bit (1:04) of odd noise that is track 4 (“The 39th Jewel”) than this record would have a truly astounding side a.
Ostensibly a freaky indie folk record, these first few tracks drop a lot of bass into the mix. Bass that would rumble your `89 Pontiac Grand Prix just like one of those bass sampler discs from the 80′s. Add to that Luke’s high-pitched, wavery voice and an assortment of organic and digital sounds and you get a record that is unlike and much better than anything else out at the moment.
I mentioned side a but what of side b? While I’m never one to complain about artists taking chances, side b is in fact challenging. The three 5 minute songs (“Family Vacation”, Conquerer” and “Dark Medicine”) are not easy listens. But if you can follow Rufus Wainwright into operatic flights of fancy I don’t think it’ll be hard for you to appreciate the latter half of this disc. Hear some of the new songs live, as well as an interview about the recording of the new record
here (via WNYC). Also another interview with Luke courtesy of Joe’s Pub. Pre-order this August 21st release through Mill Pond for $12 (shipping included!) here [Download]
now. This will be on my year end list (if I ever do one!). So I’ve already linked to the first 4 songs in one form or another over the last year or so. Here’s “Medicine”, a relatively simple song, that’s tucked away towards the end of the disc. It’s the song on Snowbeast that most resembles Luke Temple’s minor hit “Make Right With You” from his debut (the song was featured in that surgeons fishing scene on Gray’s Anatomy).
I just saw Once (the film) and I suspect every post I do for the next month or so will be partly informed by this incredible movie. Low Fire reminds me of the story arc of the two main characters of Once. The overly emotive lo-fi grunge of Low Fire is not that far removed from the earnest folk rock of Glen Hansard’s character in the movie. It’d be nice to think that recording projects with such a high emotional impact, recorded on such a tiny budget, could have a shot at a greater audience.
At the end of Once there’s a glimmer of hope for the demo that Glen Hansard records with his busking friends. Will Low Fire have a similar shot with it’s new release The Second Shortcoming? Probably not but here goes nothing.
Virgin of the Birds is primarily the work of Morning Spy member Jon Rooney. His songs fumble and creep along with no apparent direction or means to get there. This is a good thing….they’re languid when necessary and purely sublime in sections. If you like the rambling folk weirdness of Felt than you’ll no doubt like this as well.
This whole week is dedicated to real indie rock. Not the indie rock that we’ve come to know and love (hate) where there’s a publicist, new media consultant, radio promo team,and a full “indie” label staff of ten working the record to The Chop Shop, NPR, KEXP, Zune, ad agencies, multinational conglomerates, cigarrette companies for potential tour support, guitar string manufacturers for, well, guitar strings, and any beer company with a “indie rock” budget. Not the indie rock you hear in JC Penney commercials, Volvo ads or disguised as background music at Starbucks. I’m partly inspired this week by the low budget success of the anti-musical musical Once.
So I was just talking about The Original Sins (haven’t posted that bit yet so stay tuned) and here comes the side-project of one of the members – Brother JT. Instead of scuzzy garage rock you get lo-fi, maniacal, Pentecostal-like weirdo heaven. Here’s a song off his new lathe cut 8″ vinyl ep Purgatory, Sweet Purgatory available now on Summersteps Records. Don’t skip the YouTube vids.
I know this doesn’t have the same nice ring as “Honky-Tonk Friday” but I’ve missed the last few Fridays and I just got Dave Gleason’s Wasted Days new record in the mail and I can’t wait `til Friday to post about it. Dave Gleason is a Californian who has been living large honky-tonk style for a while now. He opens for all the greats when they pass though San Fran and he has a slew of his own fans willing to follow him wherever he goes, especially upstairs at The Fillmore in the Poster Room.
The new record, Just Fall To Pieces, gives a nod and a wink to Dwight Yoakam, Joe Ely, Gene Clark, Buck Owens and Charlie Rich. But with the imitation and perfection of these influences Dave Gleason has also created a record that’s all his own. He inhabits these songs of losers, gamblers and lovers. His band consists of the cream of the crop of West Coast country players/pickers including Mike Therieau (an amazing solo artist in his own right). Guests on the record include Thom Moore (of the Moore Brothers) and Albert Lee. Just Fall To Pieces comes out July 10th but can be pre-ordered now through Miles Of Music here.
Peter Walsh is a Welshman from Cardiff with a Mississippi attitude. His blues are filtered through his upbringing and all of the traditional UK folk he no doubt was exposed too, as well as copious amounts of Dylan, Mississippi John Hurt, Gram Parsons and Guy Clark.
He strikes a very good Nick Drake pose and while there aren’t many audible similarities it’s hard not to think of his music as I explored Peter Walsh’s website. Buy Forbidden Roadhere.
As you know this is the place labels and distributors come to sign bands and find new and amazing product to sell (just kidding, sort of). Case in point is the fact that the new Elana James debut record has been picked up for national distribution by the fine folks at Red Eye Distribution. I’m thrilled that Elana’s unique take on western swing will find a greater audience.
Last time I wrote about Elana her disc was probably hard to get, but starting July 24th you’ll be able to find it at your local Borders or Tower (oops they’re gone!) and everywhere in between. Here’s another from her debut. You can buy the whole record digitally in my Snocap store below.
It’s hard to compete with the shows presented by the Brooklyn Vegan’s, Aquarium Drunkard’s and Stereogum’s of the world. But everything I do on S:I is a little bit under the radar so why not have these house concerts on the QT (or is it “on the down low”) as well. This is our 5th (I think) and they’ve all been great in their own way. Friday’s show (June 22nd) is with Chris Bathgate from Ann Arbor and The Spares from Chicago.
This is not open to the public, yet the public is clamoring to get in. If this sounds like a can’t miss show to you and you’d like to come email me at email@example.com with a convincing arguement and we’ll see.
Chris Bathgate – “A Flash Of Light Followed By” [Download]
PS Songs:Illinois is presenting it’s first public concert with the July 6th show at Cal’s Bar. Appearing will be Latest Flame recording artist The Gunshy, Ann Arbor’s Frontier Ruckus and chicago’s Satellite 66. More about that next week.
The Gunshy – “What Will they Speak Of You When You’re Gone” [Download]
Luke Brindley (also 1/2 of Brindley Brothers) is slicker than most of the artists profiled on Songs:Illinois. But his mix of Van Morrison-Motown-slow-groove-funk needs a little slickness. His bio mentions his fondness for Bruce Cockburn, Tom Petty and Neil Young. You can hear a little of all three (though particularly Bruce Cockburn) in the song “Hold On…”
His self titled debut was praised by critics and loved by his fans. Surprisingly I’d never heard of him, you? Buy the new record here. If you like this buy tracks from The Brindley Brothers below on Snocap.
You should probably know that for me David Olney can do no wrong. So take everything I write here with a grain or two of salt. Much like his folk music contemporary Greg Brown, David Olney has both a one-of-kind guitar style and a voice that’s to die for (if you like roots music). Usually his songwriting consists of fairly elaborate stories gussied up with choruses so that people can sing along. For David Olney the written word is sacrosanct.
These songs on One Tough Town (as I pointed out two months previous) are more scuzzy and bluesy than I’m used to hearing from David but like I said I’ll follow him anywhere. “Oh Yeah” not only draws from the Tom Waits musical notebook with tubas, muted trumpets and banjo, but also borrows liberally from Wait’s “Hang On St. Christopher” especially with the line “St. Christopher hangin’ on the mirror.”
This may not be the image you’d associate with a bluegrass meets alt-country band but The Everybodyfields are not your average roots band. The Everybodyfields are back with a new record out on August 21. And they continue to confound with their snazzy web graphics, artsy photos and indie rock take on alt-country. I wrote about their last release about two years ago. They’re on Ramseur Records (home of Avett Brothers), so you know those dudes have good taste.
“Don’t Turn Away” is the first hint (I like the sound of that instead of leak) from the new record Nothing Is Okay. It’s use of traditional instrumentation combined with dissonant electric guitar feedback and modern themes are what set it and this group apart. You’ll be able to buy this release here soon.
Ok. It’s been a month or so since I’ve last written about The Shaky Hands and while I thought I was done with them (for now), they’ve pulled me back into their orb. PDX Pop Now, the great Portland based fest, has announced it’s lineup and it’s track listing for the 2 cd companion set for this year’s fest (Aug. 3-5, free, all-ages).
So for some reason I’ve spent considerable time on this blog writing about music from Lawrence, Kansas. But I neglected to ever mention the godfather of all Lawrence indie rock – The Embarrassment (Bar-None page). In fact, a band that I previously covered on this blog and very recently on a “YouTube Saturday” rose from the embers of The Embarrassment. That band was Big Dipper.
The Embarrassment were indie rock gods from 1981 til 1990 or so. We only had a handful of bands to worship at this time (as opposed to the thousands of bands that are created each week today) and The Embarrassment were one of the greats. Again thanks to YouTube and it’s fanatical music loving users here are a couple of great videos of the band.
The song “Believe” starts out like a classic Dumptruck song from the late 80′s. That should come as no surprise since “Believe” is the lead-off track from Dumptruck’s leader Seth Tiven. Before label politics destroyed the band (there’s a pretty great article here about the bands battles with Big Time Records and Phonograph), Dumptruck had become one of my favorite bands of that entire decade. Their three pivotal albums (d is for Dumptruck, Positively Dumptuck, and for the Country) were each in their own way masterpieces of a marriage between noisy indie rock and spacey melancholy roots music.
At the time a lot of us had no idea how good Dumptruck really was, in fact I think that we took for them granted. I think that we didn’t realize that former members like Kirk Swan, Mark Mulcahy (Miracle Legion, Loud Family) and later Kevin Salem (solo artist/producer) just don’t grow on trees. The band was finally torn apart by major label shenanigans in the early 90′s. This year has been the year of Dumptruck however with a reunion show at SXSW (video of Dumptruck reunion at SXSW) and now this – Seth Tiven’s debut solo record Solitude. If you were a fan of Dumptrucks music than I can’t recommend Solitude highly enough. Buy Solitudehere.
(Editor’s note: I’ve been trying to find a way to create a revenue stream for Songs:Illinois without resorting to crass advertisements. I wanted to find a way to suport the artists and make a piece of the pie. I think I’ve found a way to do that. Many of the artists I write about have Snocap stores (official digital store for MySpace) and now through an agreement with Snocap I’ve embedded these stores within my posts and will earn a percentage of the song sales. So as always support independent music – buy the songs, see a show, get some merch. Let me know what you think about this in the comments.)
Lily Frost’s record Cine-Magique continued in the tradition of records by the likes of Holly Cole and Madeleine Peyroux. I wrote the record up here and was enchanted by her take on early jazz and cabaret. So when I heard that Lily Frost was releasing an EP of outtakes from her CineMagique session I said sign me up. Aporia Records has just released Flight Of Fancy
Whether he likes it or not Gurf Morlix will probably be forever known as the mastermind producer behind Lucinda William’s early records (also records by Blaze Foley, Slaid Cleaves, Tom Russell, Robert Earl Keen, etc. etc). His own solo career has been stuck in the Americana niche, a niche that I would argue has the lowest CD sales of any other music genre (besides jazz). I don’t have any empirical evidence for that statement, just my own observations about CD sales among this talented group of musicians.
Gurf’s new record, Diamonds To Dust, has been critically acclaimed and played extensively by Americana radio. Unfortunately many of the publications dealing with Americana music have few subscribers and the radio stations are mostly low wattage community stations that are already preaching to the converted. I hope that with the advent of mp3 blogs artists like Gurf Morlix could get the attention that they deserve. Buy Diamonds To Dusthere.
Glad you found me at my new url. Songs:Illinois is committed to writing about music that is under-appreciated and unique. I've found that the music I write about shares a couple of traits. And they are: lyrical integrity, musically diverse, and written/performed by compelling characters.
Most songs found here are free and legal and have been provided by either the artist or label. If for some reason you'd like to have a song removed, please email me at cbonnell (at) gmail.com.