Archive for August, 2007

Honky-Tonk Friday – "Underage Pussyhounds" by Jimmy Krewson of Jim And Jennie and The Pinetops fame (plus a sympathetic song for Sen. Larry Craig)

Friday, August 31st, 2007


The last time I heard such glorious country music may have been back when I first heard 2005′s Rivers Roll On by Jim and Jennie and The Pinetops (Neko Case’s occasional backing band) on Bloodshot. So it should come as no surprise that I kind of freaked out when I heard these demos from the Jim of Jim and Jennie fame (Jimmy Krewson).

Jimmy Krewson has announced on Myspace that he is prepping his solo debut. These seem like well-produced demo’s, if not the final product. The songs below are real country songs like ones you may not have heard since some f’ed up early Waylon Jennings or Johnny Cash. The polished songs sound a little like the hardcore country records Robbie Fulks has been putting out of late (with much more ironic and bitter lyrics however) and the duet, “The Minivan Song”, sounds like the classic Bakersfield country of the 60′s.

Ironically “Underage Pussyhounds” is not the most outrageous new song from Jimmy Krewson. That honor probably goes to “This One’s On Me”. But each song below has a little bit of twisted novelty, mixed with a little bit of sad, pitiful truth. As I referred to in the title of this post, “This One’s On Me” goes out to embattled Republican Sen. Larry Craig. The gist of the first part of the song is that a straight male hitchhiker agrees to oral sex with a trucker that has pulled over and picked him up. This is pure pity sex and is the result of some bad feelings after the breakup of the hitcher’s last hetero relationship. I gotta imagine this is the first such story line in a country song. And had Sen. Larry Craig not just attempted something remarkably similar I would have said that the song was unrealistic and not possible. But life is stranger than fiction.

“The Minivan Song” is an ode to a “two-timing hippie and a bow-legged stripper” workin‘ a two bit con out of a minivan. They stay in sleazy hotels and raise cain at the local Applebee’s. The best line, in a song full of great lines, comes right at the end when the Jim sings, “we’re just a two-timing hippie and a bow-legged, bleached-blond, pock-marked, saggy-titty, bow-legged stripper in a minivan.”

And besides the obvious meaning of the title to the song “Underage Pussyhounds“, I’m at a bit of a loss as to what’s happening in that song, but it can’t be good.

I try hard to avoid hyperbolic music blogger bullshit. You know the kind where each new day brings a new favorite band, but with that said this has got to the best unreleased hardcore country record of the year, I can’t think of one better and that’s just based on these three songs alone. Enjoy these three and look out for a new record from Jimmy Krewson in the not so distant future.

The Minivan Song
This One’s On Me
Underage Pussyhounds

Jim And Jennie And The Pinetops

Mount St. Helens

On tour with Jim and Jennie and The Pinetops (with guest appearance by Neko Case)

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Kane Welch Kaplin (Compass Records, September 11)

Thursday, August 30th, 2007


Kelly From Compass Records emailed me the new Kane Welch Kaplin record in four sections, attaching all the songs, taking up I don’t know how many megabytes. I feel bad for making her upload all that, since I only needed to hear the fist strum of “Red Light Blinking” to know that was the song I would be writing about and linking to today.

Kieran Kane and Kevin Welch have been a force in the Americana community for years, both before and after they formed a label co-op called Dead Reckoning. These Nashville outsiders are great songwriters and talented musicians, when they’re joined by multi-instrumentalist Fats Kaplin (and Kieran’s son Lucas) you get a verifiable roots music super group. On the whole, the songs from the new self-titled disc sound sparser and more full of echo and reverb than their prior outings. These remind me more of some of the solo work of Bill Frissell or even the recent solo work by Bruce Springsteen. Kieran Kane admits to as much on the Dead Reckoning website when he says: “I think the record sounds more austere and a little darker, maybe kind of reflective, looking back on things, life.”

“Red Light Blinking” is one of the saddest and most austere road warrior songs you’ll ever here. Using a modicum of images this song gets at the root of the loneliness and life on the road for the traveling musician better than countless other similar songs.

You can pre-order this September 11 release now here through Compass Records.

Red Light Blinking

“Something About You” w/Kane Welch Kaplin

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Wednesday, August 29th, 2007


Everyone is writing about the quiet lofi brilliance of Little Wings, but oddly no one has linked to the free song uploaded by Marriage Records. If these other songs that bloggers are posting from this record are markedly better that “Scuby” it’s probably time to pick up the 7 song cd Soft Pow’r.

Scuby

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Wussy anything but on their new record "Left For Dead"

Wednesday, August 29th, 2007


It’s been over two years since my last post about Cincinnati’s favorite sons (and daughter) Wussy, so I figured I’d just quote myself since there’s probably not a wealth of other material out there about this band:


Wussy mine the southern rock sound made semi-unpopular by The Reivers, Swimming Pool Q’s and the DB’s. I’d be curious to hear from the band if I got it even half right in this instance (perhaps I’d be safer if I throw in Fetchin‘ Bones and Hetch Hetchy…what do ya think?).

I’m going to stick with that judgment, especially on the basis of the new song, “Crooked”. “Crooked” is a straightahead rocker with a clever, catchy chorus of “they (inaudible) the way you took it, your picture’s hanging crooked”. It comes off the new record Left For Dead and as is common in this line of (unpaid) work I haven’t heard the whole record. I would hope that some of the duets found on “Airbourne” from the band’s 2005 debut (see below) are also still in play on the new one. Find out for yourself by ordering it direct from Shake It Records here.

P.S. I Rock Cleveland also has another song from the new record.

Crooked

Bonus track from 2005′s debut Funeral Dress

Airbourne

Brother JT (from the Original sins) (Birdman Records, Aug. 21)

Tuesday, August 28th, 2007


Brother JT records for Birdman Records and as proof that the label and the bands on the label don’t play the mp3 blog game Brother Jt does not show up on any blog post by any blog listed on either Elbows or Hype Machine (aside from a list of new releases generated by Hear Ya). Don’t get me wrong all the blogs you know and love probably do love all the music they’re spoon fed by the labels, promoters, and bands; but that doesn’t make it alright. I’ve watched a bunch of notable blogs go from being discoverers of great new music to the tools of the indie music industry. And industry it is; big business too if you look at first week sales figures of popular pr pushed blog bands you’ll see what I mean.

But a song like “Warm’s The New Cool” from the new Third Ear Candy is lost in the shuffle because Birdman is either too busy to hire all the indie pr talent necessary to break through the noise or either too poor to bother (or some combination of the two). In fact, when I was thinking about who/what to compare this song too I was going to say Ben Lee, but it would be have to be the Ben Lee of old because from first and second listens the new Ben Lee is a a big disappointment.

Either way I suspect this will get the same reaction as my last rant about Brother JT and the demise of indie rock; which was no reaction, but I do hope you like this song and pick up this August release direct from Birdman here. And check out all the other great garage rock from Brother JT’s other band – the seminal and unforgettable Original Sins.

Warm’s The New Cool

Truly-demented, backwards-tracking, psychedelic lead-off track from Third Ear Candy

I Am The Blob

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Luke Temple live on Daytrotter

Monday, August 27th, 2007


I was hoping to hear Luke Temple’s “Owl Song”, off his new cd Snowbeast, live and in person some day. For now these Daytrotter sessions will have to hold me over `til he comes to Chicago.

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Ryan Anderson – "The Garden Path" (Happy Happy Birthday To Me, Sept. 11) plus another song off of Chuck Prophet’s new record "Soap and Water"

Monday, August 27th, 2007

Ryan Anderson creates characters that inhabit his songs. In this way he reminds me of Sonny Smith (produced by Chuck Prophet). On The Garden Path, each Ryan Anderson song is a story unto itself so it’s not always the easiest of a listen. Compounding that, his new record is on Happy Happy Birthday To Me – an excellent label – but not one known for the sound quality of it’s releases. The sound of this release, along with Ryan’s stream of consciousness songs, lends a certain anti-folk quality to this session.

On “Railroad Killer Stamp” Ryan Anderson sings from the perspective of a mass murderer on the lam. He turns what could be a pretty dour topic into a gospel-tent, rivival-style, sing along. Pre-order this September release here.

Railroad Killer Stamp

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So you were probably wondering why I metioned Chuck Prophet in the post above. Well there’s reason to my madness and here’s how it ties all together. I’ve got another song from the upcoming Chuck Prophet record (courtesy of Jenny over at Yep Roc). It’s “All Over You” from his Oct 2 release Soap And Water (pre-order here)

All Over You

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YouTube Saturday – "Bird On A Wire"

Saturday, August 25th, 2007

Usually I pick one artist for YouTube Saturday and then select the best YouTube videos available to share with you. But today as a change of pace I’m going to select one song and select the best versions of it by artists that fit the Songs:Illinois aesthetic.

Of course no version of “Bird On A Wire” can compete with the author’s (although this one by The Neville Brothers comes pretty close) so first we’ll see a couple performances by the great Leonard Cohen.

Johnny Cash “Bird On a Wire”

Kd Lang “Bird On A Wire”

Judy Colllins “Bird On a Wire”

The Lilac Time “Bird On A Wire

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Tom Brousseau’s new Fat Cat release "Cavalier" (Fat Cat Records, Oct. 23)

Friday, August 24th, 2007


Tom Brouseau is one of my favorite artists, everything about him just rings my bell from his gently finger picked guitar, to his high falsetto voice, to his wonderful and odd way with words. So it’s been with bated breath that I’ve been waiting to hear something from his new John Parish produced Fat Cat Record’s debut Cavalier. John Parish’s production has added a few new layers to Tom’s songs, but the addition of sustained piano notes, subtle (hushed) electronic elements and a general sheen to the whole affair does not diminish Tom Brosseau’s genius. In fact I’m not sure anything or anyone could contain/restrain it for long.

There are ten new songs on Cavalier and I could chose any one to write about and probably find something wonderful to say, some moment of transcendent beauty, or some brilliant turn of phrase. “Brass Ring Blues” is a perfect combination of all these traits. Its use of the near antiquated term “Brass Ring” with both it’s original meaning of getting a free ride on the carousel plus the deeper meaning that has to do with material success and happiness elevate this song from the mundane to an art form. Fat Cat will release Cavalier in October so check Tom Brosseau’s myspace or nicely updated homepage for info about record release parties and upcoming tours.

Brass Ring Blues

Bonus song “Amory”

Amory

“Here Comes The Water Now” from the record Grand Forks recorded at a show in Madison via YouTube

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Over The Rhine, Luke Temple and Mark Olson

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007


I’m extremely low on time today. So I’ll revist an album I mentioned a month back by Over The Rhine. The Trumpet Child officially was released this week and since it’s a worthy addition to the OTR cannon I think it’s worth another listen. “Trouble” is a jazzy song that at time almost turns into a cha-cha-cha rumba.

Trouble

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There’s more news from the Over The Rhine camp as October sees the national release of 2006′s Christmas album Snow Angels. With the temps in the mid 90′s it seems a little early to talk about Christmas but I’m sure my kids would disagree.

All I Ever Get For Christmas Is Blue
Darlin (Christmas Is Comin’)

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The other important record release of the week in my world is the new one from Luke Temple. I’m not going to do a full post because I’ve already covered the record a number of times. Needless to say I love it and am continually drawn to it for it’s wonderful melodies and experimantal sounds combined with Luke’s stunning vocals and lyrics. Here’s “Saturday People” (courtesy of Pitchfork).

Order Snowbeast here.

Saturday People

Bonus song from Luke’s debut

Old New York

One more thing and then I’m out of your life forever. Here’s a video of the new song “National Express” from the new album Salvation Years by former Jayhawk’s member Mark Olson.

“National Express” on YouTube

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Elliott Randall (not that guy from Steely Dan)

Wednesday, August 22nd, 2007

Elliot Randall is a San Francisco based alt-country troubadour whose new record, Take The Fall, has been hailed as either one of the best independent releases of the year so far (Miles Of Music) or as one of the best debuts (KFOG). I’m not ready to declare it either of those just yet, but this set of melancholy, alt-country tearjerkers is just right for my palate today.

“How To Get Old” is my emphasis track with it’s imagery of small town life, empty bus station terminals and lives only half lived. It’s a song about the California after the gold rush and where do we go from here.

Order here or here.

How To Get Old

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New Model Army’s new single plus YouTube video of the classic 80′s protest song "51st State (of America)"

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007


Just because I can, and because I love to reminisce about the mid 80′s UK punk/goth scene as much as or more than than average guy, here’s the new single off the forthcoming record from New Model Army.

I’m amazed when prominent (and wildly successful) music bloggers “ancient” discover bands for the first time. Of late blogs that I love and respect have discovered for the first time bands like The Minutemen and The Wedding Present. So if they’re just discovering those A-list bands it might be a while to they stumble across someone like New Model Army. Which would be a shame since these guys somehow mixed singable punk choruses with radical left wing politics,

Short rant…sorry. Here’s the tune:

Wired

“51st State” from 20 Years ago (as relevant, or more so, than ever)

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New song from The Mekons (Quarterstick Records, Aug. 21) plus something new from Michelle Shocked (Sept. 4)

Tuesday, August 21st, 2007

I wrote about Jon Langford’s Waco Brothers on the arrival of their last record a couple years back. The reason that post ever saw the light of day and the reason we’re still talking about Jon Langford is the dent he made on the history of rock with the emergence of The Mekons in London circa 1977. If you’re interested in the band’s history there are probably a half dozen historical tomes that spend time on the origins and history of this original punk band and it’s incredible longevity. What was interesting to many and what led me to the band was their potent mix of fire and brimstone punk with hardcore country and folk (folk as in songs of and by workers…the proletariat). Also the musical range of the group and its individual members from Sally Timms to Rico Bell (accordion) to the man himself – Jon Langford was extraordinary.

Not sure if you’ll hear all of that on the new record but it’s worth a shot. It’s available now on Quarterstick Records and entitled Natural. Here’s the nonsensical (to me anyway) single “Dickie Chalkie and Nobby”.

Dickie Chalkie and Nobby

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Here’s another artist that’s probably celebrating some type of anniversary or who deserves an award for longevity and for relentlessly plugging away and fighting the good fight. The one…the only…Michelle Shocked and the gospel, funk song “Quality Of Mercy” off her forthcoming record To Heaven U Ride.

Quality Of Mercy

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Ha Ha Tonka (formerly Amsterband) – "Buckle In the Bible Belt" (Bloodshot Records, Sept. 11)

Monday, August 20th, 2007


Ha Ha Tonka is Amersterband renamed. The band is re-releasing their 2006 self-released record this September 11 on Bloodshot. Seems like there is a slight trend at the ol’ Bloodshot homestead lately away from alt-country by-the-numbers and towards some kind of heartland meets southern rock thang. I could be wrong about that, although it wouldn’t surprise me if these new breed of Bloodshot bands with a little more rock edge sell through better and cross over to the indie rock kids more than the twangy bands of the label’s youth.

As I continue to listen to “St. Nick On the Fourth In A Fervor” from Buckle In the Bible Belt, I’m also struck with how the band successsfully combines punk rock energy, heartland rock and Gospel fervor. It’s an impresssive feat made all the more so by some of the issues the song tackles.


St. Nick On The Fourth In A Fervor

Bonus song


Caney Mountain

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Welsh indiepop from Gwildor – "You Just Lost Your Way"

Friday, August 17th, 2007


Posting a YouTube embed is the consumate blogger shortcut, but I came across this track from Gwildor on Folkwit Records and I couldn’t resist. This video is for the brand new song “You Lost Your Way” from the upcoming lp Tales From A Town and it encapsulates this band’s sound of acoustic indiepop.

I expect to have the mp3 soon but for now check out this fun video from the next group to break out of Wales. And if people dressed up as animals freaks you out please look away!

“You Just Lost Your Way”

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Storyhill (Red House Records, Feb. 2007) plus Pieta Brown (One Little Indian, Sept. 25)

Thursday, August 16th, 2007


There are two labels I shy away from writing about. The first is Red House and that’s a shame since theyare one of the preminent folk labels. The reason I don’t cover Red House artists is simple…they don’t want me to. The second label I don’t cover is Rounder and the same reason applies but I also have a prejudice against Rounder for some of it’s heavy handed business practices. I think both labels would go the cease and desist route were I to link to mp3′s from their artists.

However I would like to reccomend the new record on Redhouse Records from Storyhill. And long story short, thanks to some other online free and legal resources I’m able to share two songs with you. These guys have some of the best harmony vocals you’ll hear anywhere and the song “Paradise Lost” in particular hits on some themes I’ve addressed through song before…namely the effect modernization has on the wilderness.

Give Up The Ghost
Paradise Lost

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One of the artists with a new record out in September that’d I’ve been waiting to link to is Pieta Brown (here, here). Pieta is of course Greg Browns daughter (that’s how this ties in with the post above; Greg Brown practically is Red House Records) but more importantly is under the tuteledge of Greg’s guitar player Bo Ramsey. Bo’s guitar tone and style have been all over her prio releases and again here with her debut on One Little Indian his sound is evident. This is a good thing as Bo’s playing is both spare and economical while remaining incredibly affecting.

Pieta’s new record, Remember The Sun, is out on September 25 on One Little Indian. Find it, buy it.



Are You Free

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Wednesday, August 15th, 2007


So I’m like three albums and decade too late, but I just discovered the music of Canadian singer-songwriter Danny Michel. Thankfully through the beauty of mp3 samples and a “best of” out now I can instantly acquaint myself with his music. These two songs are from the compilation Welcome Home (1997-2007) that has just been released. If you’re a fan of the music on Songs:Illinois you’re going to want to explore Danny’s back catalog. Start with these two from the new “best of”.

Old Tattoo
Bones

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Ken Will Morton

Tuesday, August 14th, 2007


My honky-tonk friday feature has been a bit of a bust these last few weeks. On the stength of this unreleased song by Ken Will Morton I might just change that feature to Southern rock Tuesday. Ken Will Morton new record rocks pretty hard in a way you just don’t hear much anymore.

Morton’s last release came out in 2006 on Fundamental Records. From what I heard it didn’t rock nearly this hard. If you’re a fan of that 2006 release don’t worry as aparantly there are two records in the can: a southern fried rock project with this song on it and a more folksier disk called Kickin Out the Rungs. This for all you Drive-By Truckers (and now Jason Isbell) freaks (and probably for you old Drivin’ N’ Cryin’ fans).

The Devil In Me

Nyles Lannon’s "Pressure" (Badman Recording Co., Sept. 18)

Monday, August 13th, 2007


(Editor’s Note: I’m going to be away, with I suspect spotty internet (the wilds of NH), for the next week or so. I’m going to try to post every day or so (just cause I’m crazy). But I may miss a day or three and the posts themselves my be abbreviated. But the music I have lined up for the week is cool so stay tuned and be patient.)

N. Lannon’s new record, Pressure, is out on Badman Recording Co. on Sept. 18. I thought this ex Film School leader’s new song would be all over the internet by now by I can’t find it linked anywhere else. So while I’m no a big fan of the subgenre known as folktronica I still thought I’d share this. This semi-electronic, distorted vocal and muffled guitar track would have been perfect for a film like Donnie Darko.

You’ll be able to buy Pressure directly from Badman soon here.

Did I Lose You
Next Obsession

From 2006′s Chemical Friends on Badman:

Hollow Heart
Demons

Bonus songs from his debut Astronomy For Children:

4 Little Fires
Spoke Words

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YouTube Saturday – Billy Bragg (plus mp3′s of "Price Of Oil", "Take Down The Union Jack", and "Must I Paint A Picture")

Saturday, August 11th, 2007


If you were even slightly political in the 80′s than you know of Billy Bragg. Even if you don’t care for some of his more overt songs there’s no way to discount the fact that “A New England” is a classic. Depending on your age his work with Wilco on Mermaid Avenue either cemented his status or introduced him to a whole new generation. It also showed that he was a great singer and interpreter of other people’s lyrics (this time Woody Gutherie’s). Of late Billy Bragg has been going the box set retrospective route. I hope that doesn’t mean his creative juices are drying up, but time will tell. Here’s some of my favorite songs from Billy Bragg. Plus these three mp3′s are free courtesy of Billy Bragg’s website.

Price Of Oil
Take Down The Union Jack (Remix)
Must I Paint You A Picture

“A New England”

“The Milkman Of Human Kindness”

“The Great Leap Forward”

“Sexuality”

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