Archive for February, 2008

SXSW Preview Pt. 6 – Greg Koons’ “L.A. Looks Prettier On TV”

Friday, February 29th, 2008

(Editor’s Note: Just in case you’re actually paying attention and visiting with any regularity, I thought I’d better warn you that I’m off on vacation from tomorrow (March 1) until Thursday (March 6). I’m pretty sure I won’t be posting during that time, so visit the other fine sites on my sidebar and wish me well down in Mexico.)

The debut record by Greg Koons has been produced by Matt Keating. It doesn’t arrive until the fall but I’ve been a big fan of Matt’s (here) so immediately gave this youngster the benefit of the doubt based on just this one song. “Los Angeles Looks Prettier On TV” has that rare element of a catchy chorus combined with plenty of expository details.

Greg Koons’ SXSW showcase is Thursday, March 13 at Stephen F’s Bar.

La Looks Prettier On TV [Download]


Selfishly I wanted to be one of the first to post about Sera Cahoone’s Sub Pop debut but Largehearted Boy has beat me to it. Largehearted Boy has the new song from Sera Cahoone.

Only As The Day Is Long [Download]

SXSW Preview Pt. 5 – New Record From Chatham County Line (Yep Roc, March 4)

Thursday, February 28th, 2008

Chatham County Line have made a great record. It’s one I wasn’t going to mention just because I assumed so many other music blogs would have written about it by now. But so far nothing. Out on March 4 on Yep Roc, IV continues the bluegrass based americana that the band is known for except that on the single “Chip Of A Star” the band sounds more like the roots pop of The Avett Brothers than the traditional bluegrass of Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley et al.

It’s a beautiful song that wouldn’t be out of place on an Avett Brothers record or an acoustic side project by Wilco. The band plays SXSW on Thursday night March 13 at 11pm at The Continental Club (a perfect venue for the band; not always the case at SXSW). This will be where I’m heading the moment I get in to Austin (luggage and all!). Pre-order IV here.

Chip Of A Star [Download]

Official (cute) video for “Let It Rock” from IV

New Record from The Brendan Hines

Wednesday, February 27th, 2008

I was so enamored by the first song I heard off of The Brendan Hines new record that it’s no surprise that the whole thing is right up my alley. “Miss New York” was the clever song that stuck out at first (here). As an avowed East Coaster stuck in the Midwest I can relate to the nostalgia that one feels for a hometown.

The new record from The Brendan Hines is called Good For You Know Who. The songs on the record deal with subjects as diverse as drinking yourself to death, suicide, more death and drinking, and selfish behavior of all sorts. Sounds a bit dreary, I know, but musically the songs are fairly jaunty filled with horns, toy instruments, piano and guitar and they mostly come with a pretty big slab of sarcasm on the side. You can order this now via Cd Baby here.

Hard To Kill [Download]

Older songs:

Sh Boop [Download]

RE: Loving You [Download]

SXSW Preview Pt. 4 – Exclusive song from Chris Bathgate’s new EP “Wait, Skeleton” (Quite Scientific, Feb. 26)

Tuesday, February 26th, 2008

My expectations for an EP released after an acclaimed full length are usually that the songs on the EP are leftovers from the previous recording session and somehow not ready for prime time or that the songs were recorded on the cheap and are under-produced compared to the ones from the LP. But this is not the case with the new EP Wait, Skeleton from Chris Bathgate.

The electric guitar on this new EP is at times brash and ringing and at other times it reclines in the background. On “Yes I’m Cold”, a new studio version of an older song from Throatsleep, Chris uses mandolin combined with that ringing guitar to add real emotion to the music. For the vocals he layers his own vocals with overdubs in the studio. Live this song would probably falter a bit because so many elements are a studio concoction, but with Chris’ innovative looping technique this song will be as powerful live as it is on tape. Buy it here (it ships today!).

Catch Chris Bathgate at SXSW first at Emo’s Annex in the afternoon and then at night at Soho Lounge on March 12.

Yes I’m Cold [Download]

Bonus song, “Serpentine”, from A Cork Tale Wake:

Serpentine [Download]

New videos from Tift Merritt and Kathleen Edwards

Monday, February 25th, 2008

I realize that sometimes I write about releases months before they are available and then don’t do a good job following up on those releases. At the time of the initial post there’s rarely a link to buy, or a video or even tour dates (although I always try to link to a pre-order page). My belated New Years resolution is to do better updating these posts.

For instance, Tift Merritt’s new record is due out tomorrow, and since I wrote it here, a video has been released for the song “Broken”. And really where else are you going to be able to see that than on Songs:Illinois.


Kathleen Edwards‘ new record is out March 4. I’m really liking it, but that’s probably an understatement since I think Kathleen Edwards is in the top echelon of female singer songwriters.

Asking For Flowers is on Rounder Records. They typically put the kebosh on mp3 blogs, so as of yet no one has made any tracks available from it. However they (label, management, artist) have put together a great video EPK with interviews, song clips and behind the scenes video of the recording session. Check it out below, should give you a good taste of the record.

The Chapin Sisters angelic debut “Lake Bottom” (Plain Recordings)

Monday, February 25th, 2008

At the time the film O Brother Where Art Thou came out and the subsequent buzz over the bluegrass and gospel inspired soundtrack it seemed like the resurgence of these peculiarly American music forms would be a permanent event. Years later the fervor and ardor that people initially had has tapered off. But the The Chapin Sisters don’t have any intention to of leaving this sound behind (despite their brief shot at fame with their cover of Britney Spears’ “Toxic” from last year).

I wrote about the Chapin Sisters first here and brought up the same points. The girls now have the production help of Thom Monohan, and at least on this song from the upcoming LP Lake Bottom, he’s done a wonderful job of using the bands strength, their harmonizing vocals, to capture the essence of the song.

Washaway [Download]

Bonus songs from their debut EP:

Shady River [Download]

Long Journey [Download]

And one from Tom Chapin (aka Dad)

Not On The Test [Download]

P.S. Strangely on Swedesplease today I am highlighting music by a Swedish duo who also emulate the folk music of America. These two songs really go nicely together so head on over here to download “Would You Cry” by Blue Eyed Blondes.

YouTube Saturday – A Video History of SXSW (Spoon, Texas Instruments, Sufjan Stevens, Beachwood Sparks, Ben Lee and others)

Saturday, February 23rd, 2008

So yeah I’m getting excited about SXSW so I poked around YouTube trying to round up a chronological video history of the fest. I didn’t find anything from the beginning years (1987-1992). But starting with 1993 and the amazing video from Texas Instruments things got better.

Texas Instruments – “Don’t Give Your Life” 1993

The Stranded Lads “Happy Holidays” 1994

Meredith Louise Miller “Words Of Love” 1995

Pineal Ventana “Man Lies” 1996

Spoon “Utilitarian/Don’t Buy the Realistic” 1997

Beachwood Sparks “Sister Rose” 2000

Neil Finn “Sinner” 2002

Sufjan Stevens “The One I Love” 2004

Ben Lee “Catch My Disease” 2005

Carolyn Mark “Fuzzy Slippers” 2006

Jessie Sykes 2007

David Wilcox’s new anti-war song “Falling For It” (What Are Records?, March 4)

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

A couple weeks ago I wrote about Larry McMurtry’s new anti-war song about Cheney called “Cheney’s Toy”. I was hard on it, in part because of the expectations I had for the song and in part because of the song’s missed opportunities. I didn’t have those same expectations for David Wilcox’s “Falling For It”. I kind of assumed it’d be another sappy guilty pleasure but that’s not the case.

David is a great singer and acoustic guitar player, I’ve characterized him in the past as super sensitive and I think that’s accurate. He lives up to some of the stereotypes of the wimpy folk singer. But I’ve always loved his stuff.

His new record Airstream is just him and his acoustic guitar. On the song “Falling For It” he makes a good case for why we should be protesting this unjust war in Iraq. Buy both the new record and a new live dvd at What Are Records?

Falling For It [Download]

“Rusty Old American Dream” from Live At Workplay DVD on What Are Records?

Jon Jackson For Congress! (**Warning Viral Video Enclosed**)

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

Jon Jackson, whose music we fawned over here, has a posted two videos over the last couple of days explaining his decision to run for a seat in Congress. Everyone is telling him he’s crazy (and maybe he is) but didn’t you ever have a crazy idea? An idea so crazy you never bothered attempting it and then regretted that decision for years.

I hope this goes viral, at the very least because it will expose more people to Jon’s music, but also because it’d be great if he actually won.

The smoking in the first video and Jon’s surprise that the election is this November in the second is classic. Write in Jon Jackson in November!

Here’s another song from Jon’s debut record Green Apples for sale now on CDBaby here.

Papaw McClung [Download]

Campaign video #1

U.S. House of Representatives

SXSW Preview Pt. 3 – Kitty Daisy and Lewis

Thursday, February 21st, 2008

The British are coming! The British are coming!

As a proponent of Swedish music (here) I expect you might think I’d say that the Swedes will make a mark this year at SXSW. But I think that this is the year of the British band.

Kitty Daisy and Lewis are the Pipettes; if they were emulating the cool kids from the 50′s instead of the squares. They’re the Pipettes, if the Pipettes drank whiskey and listened to Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley. They’re the Pipettes, if the Pipettes weren’t an artificial media creation. They’re the Pipettes, if the Pipettes had any soul.

“Mean Son Of a Gun” is an amazing cover, but the question is can these gals write and record their own material. There are rumors of a debut full length on Sunday Best this spring, so we’ll have our answer then.

They’re playing three times so far at SXSW: March 12 for Fatfox, March 14 for British dj Rob Da Bank and March 15 for Mojo.

Mean Son Of A Gun [Download]

We Dreamed America – A Twisted Tale of British Roots and American Music
is a documentary film about the British roots scene. The thesis behind the film is that good country music can exist in the UK and that one band is going to break out of that scene soon. Lay your money on Kitty Daisy and Lewis or The Broken Family Band.

SXSW Preview Pt. 2 – Jim Bianco’s New Record “Sing” and The Hotel Cafe SXSW Showcase

Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

I’d been meaning to write about Jim Bianco, but never got the chance to share his music. He’s one of those L.A based, Hotel Cafe type guys. That’s not meant completely derogatively, although that scene is a bit incestuous and the singer-songwriters that miss the mark stylistically sound woefully bad. But don’t worry Jim hits it.

On this song he takes on the role of an obsessed underground cabaret singer and practically oozes sensuality and desire, all of which he’s captured on the video for the song (with fetish model Courtney Cruz). The Tom Waits comparison is the obvious starting point for a number of reasons, but Jim’s got his own sound and unique delivery. Jim Bianco will appear at the Parish on March 13 as part of The Hotel Cafe SXSW showcase. I’ll see you there?!

I Got A Thing For You [Download]

“I Got A Thing For You” (NSFW)(w/International fetish model Courtney Cruz)

SXSW Preview – Exclusive song from The Strugglers upcoming disc “The Latest Rights” (Acuarela Records, March 18)

Tuesday, February 19th, 2008

(Editors Note: Well, it’s almost time for SXSW and for once I’m going. So, over the next two or three weeks I’ll be previewing the shows I hope to see. This list will be unlike anyone else’s, which is one of the cool things about SXSW.)

If you love the Mountain Goats, think Jeff Tweedy is godlike, and kill for Richmond Fontaine then you’ve got to hear The Strugglers (here, here). B.R. Bickford and friends make up The Strugglers. The new album features violin from Daniel Hart and contributions from multi-instrumentalist Alex Lazara. The Latest Rights is out March 18 on Acuarela and The Strugglers will be playing SXSW at the Acuarela showcase at the Habana Canne Annex on March 14.

“Morningside Heights” has all of the elements of earlier recordings by The Strugglers, but this may be their best work to date. The use of the violin is perfect, Bickford’s vocals are rich and front and center in the mix and the lyrics are dripping with emotion and compelling imagery (“you moved to the city with the oldest daughter of a Western director”).

Morningside Heights [Download]

President’s Day Twofer – “Andrew Jackson” by 43 Presidents w/Califone and “William Howard Taft” by The Two Man Gentlemen Band

Monday, February 18th, 2008

I was going to take the day off from posting but then the universe conspired to place these songs in my proverbial virtual lap. “Andrew Jackson” is a song off the forthcoming disc called Of Great And mortal Men: 43 Songs About 43 U.S. Presidencies (lots more info about the project here via Pitchfork).

In a nutshell these 43 songs were written as part of a song writing exercise undertaken by Christian Kiefer, Jefferson Pritcher and Mathew Gerken. The song below has studio contributions from Califone. The songs on the 3 disc set should follow these individuals earlier works, much like “Andrew Jackson” does, that means experimental folk that doesn’t ramble but now is reigned in somewhat with a structure provided by the 43 President’s project.

Andrew Jackson [Download]


The Two Man Gentlemen Band play an antiquated but very lively form of 20′s kazoo and banjo powered speakeasy folk-jazz. This song is the single off their recently released cd Heavy Petting.

William Howard Taft [Download]

“William Howard Taft”

What Everyone Else Was Saying – Weekly Blog Roundup

Sunday, February 17th, 2008

Seemed like a slow week in the old blogosphere, but Yellow Stereo has two tracks from the new Devotchka cd.

Carl Sandburg Visits Me In a Dream has a couple from the new record from Chicago’s Manishevitz.

Anyone’s Guess
has the title track from AA Bondy’s 2007 release (to be re-released by Fat Possum in the spring), a record that continues to reverberate with me.

Instrumental Analysis has a new song from The Two Man Gentlemen Band. This is a record I passed on solely because of the hard PR push (although I wrote about their last record). As you can tell from this song the band hasn’t compromised themselves musically, despite someone’s attempt to garner attention/praise from the vast music blog network.

YouTube Saturday – Emmy the Great (plus glimpses of Lightspeed Champion, Jerermy Warmsely and Laura Grove)

Saturday, February 16th, 2008

Usually these “Youtube Saturdays” are reserved for more established artists or sometimes for lost causes from the past (Galaxie 500, The Feelies, Gil Scott Heron). But today’s “YouTube Saturday” is devoted to the future. And someone I believe is an incredible talent.

Emmy The Great is that someone. She’s English and started out a little twee/indie pop but has smoothed out her edges of late and become quite refined. She’s suddenly also very hip as her friends Lightspeed Champion and Jeremy Warmsley are gaining some fame and it’s rubbing off on her.

She’ll be at SXSW this year and I expect her to be the big crossover discovery of the week long festival/conferenc.

Easter Parade [Download]

“Easter Parade”


“City Song”

Here’s a couple of the above blokes live on “Welcome To Our TV Show”

January 2008 [Part One]

Add to My Profile

Black Cab Sessions

Mish Mash Post (Jason Collett, Bearsuit, The Darling Downs (ex-Died Pretty))

Friday, February 15th, 2008

I’ve been listening to the new Jason Collett record a lot of late. Usually I avoid writing about major indie acts like this but the record just keeps growing on me. The single “Out Of Time” is not really representative of the whole record but it’s like the record dressed up in a suit and tie ready for company. So if you like this you’ll love the rest of the record.

Out Of Time (via Stereogum [Download]

I’ve got a thing for the English band Bearsuit. I don’t know why either. They really don’t sound like anything I typically like but every time I hear their stuff I sit back and think “damn, that’s good”. They seem to mix indie pop with punk in a way that makes both genre’s a bit more palpable. Here’s “More Soul Than Wigan Casino” from Oh:Io out in March in the US on HHBTM.

More Soul Than Wigan Casino [Download]

The Darling Downs will have a release out on Chicago’s Carrot Top Records in April. This duo consists of Kim Salmon from The Scientist and Ron Peno of Died Pretty. Their new record sounds like it’s a mix of euro-gothic folk and americana – so yeah, part Nick Drake and Part Nick Cave with a little Johnny Cash thrown in for good measure. Here’s the video for the first song that’s surfaced from the upcoming record.

Darling Downs – “Circa `65″

Exclusive song from the acoustic companion EP to the new record “Vagabonds” by Gary Louris (ex-Jayhawks) (plus a contest to win your own copy)

Thursday, February 14th, 2008

(CONTEST UPDATE: It’s over. Thanks to all who entered. The winners were two Gary fans from England and France – go figure!)

I was fortunate to be able to provide an exclusive song off the new Gary Louris record a couple months back (how very Stereogum of me, right!?). Now fortune has smiled upon me once again with the chance to share an exclusive cut from the acoustic EP that is only available at independent record stores across the country. The songs on the EP are acoustic tracks of those on the new record. And if you’re like me and like your music stripped to the bones this is a record you’ll want to get.

I’ve got 2 copies of the EP to give away to the 22nd and 23rd person to email me at One email per person please.

The new record, Vagabonds, comes out Feb. 19 but is available now thru The deal is you order now for $10.99 and they’ll ship you the CD on release date, but in the interim they give you the digital, iPod-ready, version. It’s a pretty great deal and is available now at Gary’s MySpace page here.

Here’s the acoustic version of “We’ll Get By” from the new EP.

We’ll Get By [Download]

Rodney Parker And 50 Peso Reward – “The Lonesome Dirge” (Self-released, April 8)

Wednesday, February 13th, 2008

The title The Lonesome Dirge is a bit of a misnomer for this brawny heartland rock meets smoky Texas twang of a record from Rodney Parker and 50 Peso Reward.

I wrote about Rodney Parker way back in the infancy of this site. So there’s some history there. That counts for something, plus the $100 dollar bill inside the CD case (just kidding). But all of that familiarity doesn’t breed contempt, nor does it lessen the fact that this sounds like a damn fine record.

The song “11 Hours” is a standout track, but it’s the only one like it on the record. “11 Hours” is an atmospheric ballad that’s vocals are run through a long delay. It’s unlike a lot of the rockers on The Lonesome Dirge until the end when it kicks it up a notch. If this piques your interest find out more here.

11 Hours [Download]

Mando Saenz – “Bucket” (Carnival Recording Company, Feb. 5)

Tuesday, February 12th, 2008

Mando Saenz is a Mexican born and California bred but Nashville loving singer-songwriter whose new album was released Feb. 5. I wrote about the relatively unknown singer back in 2005 with the release of his debut Watertown here, and have been following his work ever since. The new record is a well-produced affair with some of the cream-of-the-crop Nashville players assisting including Kenny Vaughn, Will Kimbrough and David Grissom.

Originally I had Mando pegged as an alt-country troubadour but with this new release I see him sliding into whatever space is left between the like of Josh Ritter, Ron Sexsmith and Josh Rouse at the AAA all-boys head table. On a song like “A Touch Is All” he sounds like he’d be comfortable joining them for a bite and drink. You can buy the new record, Bucket, here from Mando Saenz.

A Touch Is All [Download]

PS I finally figured out how to use categories on WordPress. So if you’re interested I’ve added a drop down menu under search on the right where you can look up similar posts..say Honky-Tonk, Folk or Americana.

Tom Williams & The Boat – The February EP

Monday, February 11th, 2008

Tom Williams is keeping busy. Hot on the heels of his recent Penguin EP he’s releasing a follow-up called simply February EP. There are 5 songs on there that are so thoroughly English you feel like you’re listening to a busker in Kensington Gardens instead of an acclaimed solo artist. People are throwing around terms like anti-folk and comparisons to Lightspeed Champion for Tom Williams & The Boat and I hear all that.

But these songs fit just as easily into a revised troubadour type sound; like a Bob Dylan for the 00′s. In other spots though, these sound as layered and lyrically evolved as something the Decemberists might release. On “Small Boy” there’s a lot of stopping and starting and frantic shifts in dynamics. While “Train Station Car Park” is more about family dynamics and getting old, than it is about said car park and the horrible traffic on the M25. February is another step forward for Tom Williams & The Boat

Small Boy [Download]

Train Station Car Park [Download]

“Trixy Vixen Does It Again” also from the February EP (and btw if you’re an artist and you’re not taking advantage of YouTube you’re crazy!)