Archive for December, 2007

YouTube Saturday – Concrete Blonde

Saturday, December 29th, 2007

For those of us who watched MTV when they still played videos, listened to the radio when program directors would take a shot on an artist just cause they liked them and read music publications when they still were relevant then you’ve probably heard of Concrete Blonde.

Concrete Blonde was that once in a lifetime combination of talent and style. The band’s grimy goth rock was a perfect compliment to Johnette Napolitano’s husky vocals.

“Still In Hollywood”

“True”

“God Is A Bullet”

“Joey”

“Everybody Knows”

Most Deserving Artists Of 2007 – West Dakota (**Repost**)

Friday, December 28th, 2007

This is the best song you’ll hear all week. Period. That used to be quite a boast but with the number of blogs and online/offline music possibilities it may not hold the same weight. Nonetheless this little gem from West Dakota’s upcoming debut full length, Turn Around Leaders on Swim Slowly)(Doveman, The Robot Ate Me), hits all the right warbly high notes, strums just the right banjo chords, references the perfect number of mythical beasts, and namedrops the coolest philosophical theories (deterministic vs. free will).

West Dakota is Edna Rosenburg with help from Ryland Bouchard (T.R.A.M,), Sam Amidon, and Thomas Bartlett (Doveman).

Buy it here for $10.

Winners [Download]

Bonus songs from Samamidon’s new record But This Chicken Proved Falsehearted:

Louis Collins [Download]

Tribulation [Download]

Bonus song from Doveman:

Honey [Download]

Something from The Robot Ate Me:

Good World [Download]

Most Deserving Artists Of 2007 – Chris Bathgate

Wednesday, December 26th, 2007

Of course there were hundreds of bigger releases, releases with more press, and releases that were more obvious (in both music and lyrics). But for me there were not that many that surpassed Chris Bathgates Quite Scientific debut A Cork Tale Wake. Here’s a repost from April that I did on Chris Bathgate:

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Chris Bathgate (here, here) is in the news quite a bit lately. First, one of his songs is featured on the Yer Bird compilation Folk Music For The End Of The World. It’s a great little comp that puts a bunch of indie folk artists of like minds in one place (Chris’ contemporaries on End Of The World are J. Tillman, Hayden, and The Gunshy). Secondly the great little label (or not so little depending on how Canada’s This Cursed House sold through) Quite Scientific is releasing Chris Bathgate’s next record, titled A Cork Tale Wake, on July 26.

Of course I haven’t heard much but this little sneak peak shows why Quite Scientific signed him, why he was named “Best Solo Artist in Michigan” by the Detroit Free Press and why he’s a favorite of Songs:Illinois. “A flash of light followed by” has the wonderful finger picked acoustic guitar that we’ve heard before from Chris, his always expressive voice and now a fuller production with horns and distorted guitars. To kill two birds with one stone here’s the one song that’s on both the excellent new Yer Bird compilation and on Chris Bathgate’s upcoming Quite Scientific debut A Cork Tale Wake.

A flash Of light followed by [Download]

“Buffalo Girl” from Throatsleep

Buffalo GirlHere’s a live version of “Buffalo Girl” (link down)(courtesy of Cherbonsy [Download]
)

Creek, Cure, Dawn at The Panopticon


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Merry Christmas From S:I (plus Christmas songs from The Silos, Rose Polenzani and Spottiswoode)

Tuesday, December 25th, 2007

I know you probably thought that there couldn’t be any more new Christmas music out there; let alone from a quality group like The Silos, a band as eclectic as Spottiswoode and His Enemies, or a singer-songwriter as acclaimed, yet as humble as Rose Polenzani. But with a little sleuthing on Christmas eve, while I digested the chicken pot pie, I turned up these three gems.

The Silos is just what I like from that band. Walter Salas Humara plus a little Walter Salas Humara plus a little Walter Salas Humara on the side. In fact were he to disband the group and just play under his own name I would be pleased. Here’s a WSH original “Christmas Comes Once A Year) You Are Always In My Heart”.

(Christmas Comes Once A Year) You Are Always In My Heart [Download]

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Rose Polenzani
is the lo-fi folk gueen of Boston. Her friends are legion, her YouTube video channel charming, and her songs consistently heart wrenching. Here she takes her turn with the Christmas classic “Have Yourself A Merry Christmas”.

Have Yourself A Merry Christmas [Download]

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Spottiswoode and His Enemies are a complete unknown to me. But they run with the right crowds. In fact he co-wrote The Silos song above. Here’s their original

Chelsea Boys [Download]

Most Deserving Artists of 2007 – Sonny Smith

Monday, December 24th, 2007

Sonny Smith’s record Fruitvale has stood up better than many other releases from 2007. That’s probably because the words are poetry dressed up as lyrics, the songs could be award winning 4 minute plays and the music is a perfect compliment of troubadour soul. Here’s the first of several posts I made about the record:

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I still get a huge rush discovering something new that I love and that I hope others will love, Sonny Smith (MySpace) easily goes down as one of my favorite finds. Others are excited as I am. It seems his record label, Belle Sound, was started solely to get Sonny Smith’s new record, Fruitvale, out to a larger market. The label is somehow related to the great Chuck Prophet (I think he “owns” it since the label’s previous releases were Green On Red collectibles).

“The characters in Sonny’s songs are so real, don’t be surprised if they crawl out of your speakers and bum your last smoke off you. I wouldn’t wish running a label on my worst enemy. Sonny is so good I had no choice.” (Chuck Prophet)

Sonny’s previous albums have been concept records (one a series of one act plays, another made up of songs about broken love). The new one is also a loose concept record with all the songs based on his neighborhood of Fruitvale within the city of Oakland. “Curtis On The Corner” is a microcosm of the entire album writ small. In one song you get plenty of imagery about the neighborhood of Fruitvale (“2 bird cages on a windowsill”, “a singing butcher at the grocery store”, “a pit bull singing to a police siren”, and “a dead bottle rocket on my front porch”), and also a sense of the folk troubadour sound found throughout. I hear a kind of roughed up Paul Simon (circa “Me and Julio Down By The Schoolyard”) meets a woozy and now urban Townes Van Zandt. Guests on the record include Leroy Bach (Wilco), Dave Hilliard (David Byrne), Mathew Luz (Azita) and three of the most fabulous Chicago singers ever – Nora O’Connor, Edith Frost and Kelly Hogan.

I’m so not surprised that Sonny has dates coming up with David Dondero and Neko Case. Here’s a couple of dates:

Wednesday 28th at Park West in Chicago with Neko Case
Sunday April 15th at Make-Out Room

PRE-ORDER this April 17th release here and save two bucks.

Curtis On The Corner [Download]

Bonus songs from 2005′s One Act Plays:

Eddie and RitaWeird Fantasy/Strange Adventure [Download]

“Rothko Chapel” from David Dondero’s 2007 release Simple Love

Rothko Chapel [Download]

What Everyone Else Was Saying – Weekly Blog Roundup

Sunday, December 23rd, 2007


Art by Mathew Palladino)

How annoying is it to scroll through Elbo.ws and see that everyone and their brother (and his dog) have posted their year end best of lists? Does every half-baked music blogger really think we care that he’s listed Cloud Cult in front of Radiohead or The National over Art Brut or vice-versa? There was so little new music posted or written about this week, but here’s some of what everyone else was saying:


A Space For Music Liberation
has a new song off an EP from a band called Gossamer Albatross; kind of an Antony and the Johnsons meets Bright Eyes.


Anyone’s Guess
has 2 songs from Petrcovitch otherwise known as SF based folk singer Jessica Peters.

Shattered Satellite has up and coming vulnerable sounding London folk artist Jay Jay Pistolet.

Like I said above I’m a bit peeved by all the year end list making but Lonesome Music gets an exemption with the great/different list they just posted.

More fine acoustic based music from London courtesy of the blog Check the Availability.

YouTube Saturday – Christmas Special (Robert Earl Keen, Jill Sobule, Tom Waits, Josh Rouse, Mountain Goats, The Pogues, Steve Earl)

Saturday, December 22nd, 2007

Here’ what I’ve got. What am I missing? Add it in the comments.

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Robert Earl Keen “Christmas From The Family” (Jill Sobule’s version)

Tom Waits “Christmas Card From a Hooker In Minneapolis”

Antsy McClain “Christmas At the Trailer Park”

Mountain Goats doing John Prine’s “Chistmas In Prison”

Johnny Cash “12 Days Of Christmas”

Rufus Wainwright “Spotlight on Christmas”

Josh Rouse “Christmas With Jesus”

The Pogues “Fairytale Of New York”

Steve Earl and Joan Baez – “Christmas In Washington”

Dar Williams “The Christians and the Pagans”

Most Deserving Artists of 2007 – The Avett Brothers (**Repost**)(plus a new video or two)

Friday, December 21st, 2007

I was poking around the S:I archives from March trying to see what to repost for this “most deserving artists” thing I’m doing. Well, it seems that March was one happening month with new releases from Arthur Dodge, Sonny Smith, Devon Sproule, David Olney and many more so it was hard to pick just one band to feature. But once I saw my post on The Avett Brothers things became clearer. If I were to do a “best of” list I’d say Die Die Die would have to be right there at the top. So here’s the title track but first some videos that weren’t available at the time of my original post.

Avett Brothers sing “For Today”

“Shame” in NYC

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One of the pluses about writing about music that generally now one has ever heard of is that their are few experts to correct you. Sure, people have heard about the Avett Brothers but on the whole they’re a very new and as yet undiscovered band. So when I say that I hear shades of Buddy Holly and Roy Orbison on their new record there are few around who can disagree.

At least iTunes agrees with me and instead of filing them under indie or country or folk they get the more obtuse genre tag of “unclassifiable”. I like the new album title too, the new record is called Emotionalism. Like a combo of emo and turntablism, strange. The first track, “Die Die Die”, is a fine example of the sound that I’m trying to describe. Layered yet simple. Romantic yet somehow down to earth. On first (and second) listen this sounds like a slight departure/evolution for the band. I can’t find a pre-order link yet but you can get this new release at the band’s upcoming shows.

Die Die Die [Download]

PS Seth Avett Solo:

Some Bad Dream [Download]

Walkin The Line [Download]

“I Am Not Prepared” by Maddy Wyatt (plus and omg! the video for “Wonder” by Giant Sand feat. Victoria Williams)

Thursday, December 20th, 2007

Maddy Wyatt has just released her unheralded debut record on Ten Good Records. The song “I am Not Prepared” from Backdive starts out like it’s going to be a jazzy two-step but then morphs into an electronic flavored, indie-folk song. This is more like something you might hear on Womenfolk or on one of the more AAA flavored blogs and certainly on radio stations like WXRT, KBCO and WXPN. But the more I listen the more I like. If you missed this release like I did from earlier in the year it’s not too late to get it here.

I Am Not Prepared [Download]

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Completely unrelated but amazing nonetheless – Giant Sand’s “Wonder” from 1992

Plus “Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas” by Victoria Williams from 1995


“Wonder”

Jim White’s New Record – “Transnormal Skiperoo” (Luaka Pop, March 4)

Wednesday, December 19th, 2007

Jim White (here and here w/Hellwood) is a musical archaeologist much like Ry Cooder or David Byrne. But instead of mining the world music scene for inspiration he concentrates on the lost, forgotten or ignored sounds of America, particularly the deep south. He was so enamored by the culture of the southern states that he made a critically acclaimed documentary called Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus (trailer below).

Jim White (no, not the hip one who made that record with Nina Nastasia) has released his new record, Transnormal Skiperoo, in Europe, but for some reason is waiting `til March 4th to release it in the States on Luaka Pop. He’s recruited the NYC based roots group Ollabelle to contribute to the new song “A Town Called Amen” (wrote about `em first here), lending the song it’s slight gospel feel. For “Crash Into The Sun” he’s mixed it up a bit by doing a Chuck Prophet meets Alex Chilton channeling Matt Johnson (of The The) rave-up complete with horns and organ.

Pre-order here from Amazon or get it as an import here.

A Town Called Amen [Download]

Crash Into The Sun [Download]

Bonus track from Ollabelle

Fall Back [Download]

The other Jim White w/Nina Nastasia from their Fatcat album You Follow Me

Jim’s Room [Download]

Trailer for Jim White’s film Searching For The Wrong Eyed Jesus

Most Deserving Artists of 2007 – Gill Landry and “The Ballad Of Lawless Soirez” (**Repost**)

Tuesday, December 18th, 2007

This is a repost from February of 2007. This song and the record it’s off have stayed with me all year. I’ve added a YouTube video of a performance of the song from a club date in March.

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Gill Landry is a young New Orleans singer-songwriter who draws from many different styles, natch since he’s from the melting pot of jazz, blues and funk. Depending on the song you might hear shades of mariachi, a spanish bolero, Dylan, Sonny Landreth, Boozoo Chavis, etc. etc. The Ballad of Lawless Soirez is Landry’s debut and it just came out on the Canadian label Nettwerk. The disc was recorded in Portland with Nick Jaina (remember him) with Nick assembling a diverse group of musicians to beef up this former busker’s sound.

The cd’s artwork is apropo as well. The pulp novel lettering and fim noirish photo convey well the sounds you’ll encounter within. I contacted Gill for permission to post any one of the four songs he’s got streaming on myspace, and he sent me the title track. But you should check out the others and then buy his debut here.

Lawless Soirez [Download]

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Gill doing “Lawless Soirez” at Safari Sam’s in Hollywood, Ca.

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Most Deserving Artists Of 2007 – Vandaveer’s “Grace And Speed” (**Re-post**)(plus new xmas ep)

Monday, December 17th, 2007

Had I not received an email from his camp last week I’m not sure whether Vandaveer would have ended up in my year in review. See Vandaveer released one of the best indie folk records of the year and also sent me links to a great little Christmas EP. Those two things combined got him a repost today. Here’s a couple of the new Christmas song recordings followed by a repost of something I put together in January this year.

Silent Night [Download]

The Little Drummer Boy [Download]

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This post is not ready for prime time, despite the fact I started writing it two weeks ago. What prompted me to post it today (unfinished) is an email touting the band’s arrival. Vandaveer is unabashed (indie) folk from The Apparitions frontman Mark Charles Heidinger. His MySpace page lists his genre as “Folk Folk Folk”. And you can hear it loud and clear in the two songs below from his debut out soon on Gypsy Eyes.

There’s some of the nasally troubadour folk of Bob Dylan as well as a bit of his way with words but there’s also a Crosby, Stills and Nash California vocal harmonies sound peeking through. You can hear the “indie” influences in the processed vocals, beats and somber themes of “Marianne You’ve Done It Now”. This is a pretty auspicious start of the year for Gypsy Eyes Records and I’ll have more from them soon.

However Many Takes It Takes [Download]

Bonus song:

Marianne You’ve Done It Now [Download]

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What Everyone Else Was Saying (Joe Whyte, Grayson Capps, Megan Palmer, John Hartford, Dawn Kinnard, Kimya Dawson)

Sunday, December 16th, 2007

Herohill has the polished folk-tinged, Americana sounds of Joe Whyte.

Nine Bulletts hops on the Grayson Capps bandwagon, man it’s starting to get crowded on here.

I was negligent in not writing about the new Megan Palmer cd (sorry about that guys/gals) but plenty of others picked up the slack. Here’s Tha Bomb Shelter’s writeup.

Setting The Woods On Fire has a really amazing post on the great American singer/songwriter/picker/steamboat captain – John Hartford.

Jamie’s Runout Groove has a couple of songs from Dawn Kinnard.

If you’ve been sleeping all year and missed all the great Canadian music released than skip on over to The Late Greats where he’s done a kind of year end wrap-up.

Thus Spake Drake has a movie/music review of Juno with links to mp3′s of Kimya Dawson’s contribution to that flick.

YouTube (+MP3′s) Saturday – Radar Brothers

Saturday, December 15th, 2007

The new Radar Bros record is one of my most anticipated record of the new year. There’s just something about this bands sound that gets under my skin (in a good way). This band somehow has a knack for taking elements from bands like Mercury Rev, Sonic Youth and Yo La Tengo and combining that East Coast aesthetic with a kind of Arizona meets California laziness and haze that makes them one of the most interesting groups out there.

Unfortunately I’ve got nothing to share with you from the upcoming record but here’s the two video’s that are available and a song or two from the back catalog to keep you satisfied `til the new record comes out on Merge in a month or so.

Shifty Lies [Download]
(from The Singing Hatchet on SeeThru Broadcasting, 1999)
Government Land [Download]
(from The Fallen Leaf Pages on Merge)
Capital Gain [Download]
(from s/t debut on Restless, 1996)

“Stay”

“Papillon” (

Mp4 iPod ready download link [Download]
)

Most Deserving Artists of 2007 – Tom Brosseau’s “Grand Forks” (**Repost**)

Friday, December 14th, 2007

So I like to post every day. At first the reasons were simple: more posts = more traffic. Well the traffic never really came. It seems there’s some sort of glass ceiling when you write about the types of music and the kinds of bands that I do. But I just keep posting every day. It’s now officially a compulsion. In the holiday weeks leading up to Christmas and the month or so after it gets pretty quiet on the new release front. So in the past to keep up the daily posts I’ve reposted some of my favorite artists and some of my favorite posts from the year. I’ll be doing that again this year. I’ll try to keep it chronological starting with January and ending with early December.

I’m not calling this a “Best Of” list since I don’t do those. I haven’t heard The National’s record or Radiohead’s for that matter, but I’ll concede that they’re two of the best (over-hyped) records of the year. They certainly don’t need me piling on and adding to all the fawning attention they’ve received in the last couple of weeks. So let’s call this the “Most Deserving Artists of the Year List” list.

Here’s my first repost of 2007. Warts and all.

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Needless to say I’ve heard a ton of great music over the past few years. I’ve written about a portion of it on Songs:Illinois and Swedesplease. Still with all that great music there are still only a handfull of artists that I would dare say are my favorites. Tom Brosseau (MS) is one and if you’re a longtime reader you can guess the rest. Tom is set to release his new record in January on Loveless Records. It’s creatively titled Grand Forks (his home town) and is said to be a concept record of sorts about the great flood that hit Grand Forks in 1997. I imagine this is a concept record more along the lines of Ramona Cordova’s The Boy Who Floated Freely than The Who’s Tommy. The songs are inspired by the event and all relate in some way to the city but it’s not like track one has the storm approaching and track two it hits and track three everything gets really wet.

The most obvious aspect of Tom Brosseau’s style is his lilting high pitched vocals. When you see him live you also are immediately drawn to his humble, shy manner and equally humble (yet masterfull) guitar playing. But it’s his songs that at times strike right to the core. “Plaid Jacket” is the tale of a homeless character who clings to the contents of his shopping cart and his plaid lined jacket. The switch is that Tom has made it so that the homeless character is a more appealing person then the more stable but garish people in the song. Grand Forks was produced by Gregory Page (here) and co-produced by John Doe. Pre-order Grand Forks here.

Plaid Lined Jacket [Download]

“Good Night Irene” at Club Passim

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Pariah Beat (riyl Gogol Bordello, Devotchka)

Thursday, December 13th, 2007

Pariah Beat is a natural follow-up to the The Devil Makes Three post from last week. The two bands are MySpace friends for goodness sake (Pariah Beat also lists Songs:Illinois faves – The Cankickers!). I could drop all the same adjectives on this band as I have for those two, but I’ll just leave it at gypsy-folk-circus punk-rockers in fishnet and stiletto’s (and that’s just how the guys dress!).

You can download the new 5 song ep for free here.

Babylon Is Fallen [Download]

Tipparary [Download]

The Lonely Hearts – The Four Wheel Drive EP (Three Ring Circus Records)

Wednesday, December 12th, 2007

The Lonelyhearts record for one of the best labels in the country, but don’t just take my word on it, they were voted that by readers of The San Francisco Bay Guardian. Three Ring Records and the band are prepping their full length debut but in the meantime they have released a four song ep called The Four Wheel Drive EP. Three of the songs from the EP will also be on the debut full length.

As you can see from the photo above The Lonelyhearts are a duo. For just two guys they produce a full, rich full sound. These are two of the songs that should be on the forthcoming full length. “New Virginia” has a bit of the historical rock that the Decemberists have popularized in the last few years but musically the band has more of a western/dustbowl sound than the Victorian feel of some of that band’s best work.

New Virginia [Download]

Complicated Men [Download]

New Songs From Steve Poltz

Tuesday, December 11th, 2007

Steve Poltz has a record coming out on January 22 (actually two) and none of these brand new songs will be on it. These have appeared on Steve Poltz blog the last couple of months and they are quirky and real, done in one take and off the cuff, and sometimes silly. “Greeny” is particularly silly, as it’s about the guy’s dead travel bag for Christ’s sake! But there are real moments of insight as well. Take “Some Things About Me” which is a litany of characteristics that seem pretty autobiographical (“I use humor as a crutch”, “I’ll sell you a song”, “I act really glad even though I’m really sad sometimes”).

Steve will be hitting the Midwest in February and I’ll have an update, hopefully with some music from the new records, then.

Some Things About Me [Download]

The Ballad Of Greeny [Download]

Bonus back catalog tracks:

Silver Lining [Download]

Friendly Fire [Download]

Ten Chances [Download]

Video of “Streetfighter’s Face” from Steve’s upcoming record Travelling:

“You Remind Me” live at Tiki in Halifax (yes it’s the song from that Jeep commercial):

Mark Jungers – Silos and Smokestacks (plus a honky-tonk Christmas song)

Monday, December 10th, 2007

Mark Jungers had an unheralded Texas style americana record out in 2007 called Silos and Smokestacks. But for those in the know Mark Jungers is known as an up and coming honest to goodness country music songwriter of the highest order. Mark grew up on his family farm so it’s easy to imagine the sentiments heard on the song “Silos and Smokestacks” are both sincere and based in part on experiences he’s had.

Mark’s new record, Silos and Smokestacks, was released this fall and is available in any fine Texas record store, as well as all the usual Texas Music online outlets, or you can pick it up now at CD Baby here.

Silos and Smokestacks [Download]

Mark Jungers’ Honky-Tonk Christmas song:

The Christmas Song [Download]

P.S. Big Rock Candy Mountain is back from the dead and going full bore. He’s compiling the best country music Christmas songs you’ve never heard of but wished you had. Check out his new site here and his drinking song sister site Barstool Mountain here.

What Everyone Else Was Saying – Weekly Blog Roundup

Sunday, December 9th, 2007

(“Untitled” by Akino Kondoh)

Foggy Ruins Of Time has a song from Santa Barbara based singer-songwriter Lauren Barth who goes by the stage name Pocketful.


Anyones Guess
has a song by S.F.’s best alt-country band – or, the whale.


Anyone’s Guess
comes through again this week with a write-up of the Oxford based folk group Jonquil.

Captain Obvious has two songs from the debut record from Australian singer-songwriter Simon Moore.

Here Comes The Flood has new music from Bill Staines.

Keep The Coffee Coming must have had a double cappaccino on Dec 5 since Kat came through with two excellent posts: one about Paul Siebel and the other about Steve Goodman.

!tashed has something nice from Jenn Grant.