Archive for July, 2008

“Your Ghost Fits My Skin” from Silver Darling (Crossbill Records, October)

Thursday, July 31st, 2008

I was going to take the day off from posting today. The weather’s great in Chicago if you like 90+ degrees. And I thought I’d get out and enjoy it. But thanks to Crossbill Records I’ve got to stay in and blog about Silver Darling. Crossbill Records is a great, small California label with a roster that is growing. The label is headed by Michael Leahy who you also may know as host of the Cool As Folk radio show on KDVS. I’ve written about their artist Matt Bauer and now they’ve sent me new music from the Davis based trio Silver Darling. This is an advance preview as the record doesn’t come out til October and even if you did want to buy it now you wouldn’t be able to. I’ll remind you about this release once you can pre-order it though.

Although Crossbill usually focuses on some strain of folk music, Silver Darling are a slight stretch for them. They play a ramshackle, very loose, folk rock with influences from The Band to The Mountain Goats. It’s some of my favorite kind of music. Listen to “Roof and the Seed” from the forthcoming debut LP Your Ghost Fits My Skin.

Roof and the Seed [Download]

Wow! New Music From Giant Sand, Todd Snider, and (sort of new stuff from) J Tillman

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

Shit there’s a lot going on. I can barely keep up. I guess the summer doldrums are coming to an end and the fall season is upon us. I don’t have the time or the space to comment extensively on these three releases but I’ll try to link to bio material when appropriate so you can get the whole scoop.


Todd Snider
has an 8 track ep coming out in August, it’ll actually be available as a free download on his site for one week in August. The record is called Peace Queer and features material that is more stridently political than previous Snider stuff. But from the song titles, cover art, and the song below you can hear that his wry sense of humor hasn’t left him. Here’s the title track “Mission Accomplished”:

Mission Accomplished [Download]


Also Yep Roc just released the new song from the upcoming Giant Sand record proVisions. What can I say but that it’s typical (great) Howe Gelb. Like Smog or Wilco, the man can virtually do no wrong, whether he releases a gospel inspired record, an experimental freak-out, or a singer-songwriterly acoustic affair. I’m not sure where this new record will land on the spectrum but it features guests like Neko Case, M. Ward and Isobell Campbell. Here’s one song off it called “Increment of Love”. Pre-order the new record here and get a bunch of cool freebies.

Increment Of Love [Download]


Finally Aquarium Drunkard’s label Autumn Tone has announced they will be making available early limited edition records from J Tillman. I’ve written about the ghostly folk music of Tillman before and consider him one of our best writers and singers. Here’s the title track to one of the records that will be available everywhere fine records are sold or simply direct through Autumn Tone here.

I Will Return [Download]

Eric Hisaw’s “Nature Of The Blues” (July 15, Saustex Media)

Tuesday, July 29th, 2008

Eric Hisaw rather masterfully combines the best elements of roots music, blues and Austin folk in his new record Nature Of The Blues. Previously his style has been pegged as either a Steve Earl knockoff or too heavily influenced by the outlaw country of Waylon Jennings. The consensus so far is that the new record takes these influences, but combines them with blues to make a wholly original sound.

On “Cheap Living” Eric explores something he knows well. And that is living on the fringe of the American dream where not everyone has a living room based on the furniture porn of HGTV, flat plasma TV’s in every room, or even enough coin for a proper meal and a roof over their head. Buy the new record through his San Antonio based label site here or at our friends over at Miles Of Music here.

Cheap Living [Download]

The Duhks – “Face Paced World (August 19, Sugarhill Records)

Monday, July 28th, 2008

This weekend we headed out to Six Flags Great America. We had a great time going on every roller coaster my 7 year old could tolerate (and a few he couldn’t)! As a result the usually stellar writing you’ve become acquainted to at S:I may suffer this week. But as I’ve said before the music will always sparkle.

The Duhks have a new record, Fast Paced World, coming out August 19 on Sugarhill. The band has been hailed as one of those at the forefront of the new folk movement. From what I’ve heard and from this one song the band is exploring more unusual sounds and song styles. There’s a a certain world music/gypsy sound that the band is flirting with that I like very much. Expect a bunch of traditionalists to become even more dismayed than usual about the band’s new sound.

You can hear this newly refined sound on the song “This Fall” below.
Pre-order the new record here.

This Fall [Download]

**Exclusive** A Gospel Honkey-Tonk Friday from The Sacred Shakers w/Eilen Jewell (Signature Sounds, August 12)

Friday, July 25th, 2008

Some of my all time favorite records over the last decade or five have been gospel influenced, which is strange because I’m actually indifferent about the traditional genre known as “Gospel Music”. Whether it’s Johnny Cash singing gospel hymns or Gordon Gano hashing through his religious beliefs or even Iris Dement’s small little gospel record she released five years back, these albums with their celebration of life complete with all it’s ups and downs are very attractive to me.

One of the new era gospel records I have been looking forward to is the one being put out by Signature Sounds this August by The Sacred Shakers featuring Eilen Jewell. In fact this record has more in common with early Sun Records period Johnny Cash and Elvis Presley than any of the schlock that passes for contemporary Christian music today. It’s rooted in the blues/folk and hard country of the Southern states with a healthy dose of Texas two step mixed in for good measure. It doesn’t hurt that Eilen Jewell is the lead singer on a number of these tracks, her voice is as suited to gospel as is the the alt-country she’s become known for on her solo releases. This is some of the most uplifting, heart healthy music you’re likely to hear and this is coming from a life long agnostic who’s verging toward atheism with every new calamity and moral collapse.

Pre-order this August 12 release here or here (it’s a much better deal here).

Twelve Gates to The City [Download]

Hotel Lights – “Firecracker People” (Bar/None, August 19)

Thursday, July 24th, 2008

Hotel Lights is one of the few moody indie piano based bands I like. I wrote about the band back in 2006 when they were on the small label Sit N Spin. They’re now on Bar/None (I featured that label in a YouTube retrospective compilation here).

Leader Darren Jessee was famously a part of Ben Folds Five once upon a time. His solo music has always been a lot more somber and thoughtful than BFF, and to me that’s mostly a good thing. But still I wonder if on this new record there are any truly dynamic shifts in sound or tempo. Find out for yourself by pre-ordering this now from Bar/None here.

Firecracker People [Download]

Bonus track

Let Me Be The One [Download]

P.S. I was going to write about the new record from Reverend Peyton’s Big Damn Band but Muruch’s got it covered already here.

The Darling Downs (ex-Died Pretty, ex-The Scientists and Beasts Of Burden)(Carrot Top Records, Oct. 14)

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2008

The Darling Downs are nothing like the sum of their parts. Combining the somber pop sensibilities of Died Pretty founder Ron Peno with Australian punk rock legend Kim Salmon should not have resulted in an album of understated gothic folk. But somehow it did. The duo’s debut together was 2006′s critically acclaimed recording How Can I Forget This Heart Of Mine. Now the followup is due out in September/October on Carrot Top Records.

“Circa `65″ is the “single” off of the new record From One To Another and it features a resonating guitar bed and Leonard Cohen meets Nick Cave vocals. This is spooky, ethereal music that will surely have it’s fair share of fans in Europe, but unfortunately will probably die a painful death here in the U.S. The inventive video is a great accompaniment to this song.

Circa 65 [Download]

Video for “Circa `65″


Plus here’s the new collaboration between Jon Langford and The Ex’s Kat Ex. They’re calling this get-together KatJon.

Do You [Download]

The Smittens – “The Coolest Thing About Love” (HHBTM, July 29)

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008

This is shaping up to be a delightfully strange week on S:I. The music that will be featured is seemingly going to come from every part of the globe (yesterday the UK by way of Kansas, today Vermont, tomorrow Australia) and is going to be as distinct and original as it is varied and unique.

Everyone (and when I say everyone I mean Matt at Skatterbrain) has been writing about the new record from the Vermont based twee supergroup The Smittens. The band released the video for the single “Gumdrops” earlier in the week and now a few mp3′s have slipped onto the ethernet.

The new record is called The Coolest Thing About Love and is out now on HHBTM. The record will be proudly displayed at every indie pop online mailorder site and will soon be written about gushingly on twee forums and newsgroups. The “problem” is that the band (probably by accident) learned to play their guitars and sing in harmony and in key making them ever so slightly un-twee. The band’s sound also owes more to the sugar coated early rock `n’ roll of the 50′s than anything Belle and Sebastian or Tullycraft (despite Sean from Tullycraft contributing to the new record) has released. This “problem” hopefully will expose the band to more than just the few rabid, Cloudberry loving, ice cream eating, cardigan wearing, indie pop fans out there.

Something Sassy [Download]

Gumdrops [Download]

Kirsty Mcgee’s “Vaudebilly”

Monday, July 21st, 2008

(ahh I used to love that comic)

How I couldn’t have heard of Kirsty McGee is beyond me. Well, now that I’ve found her she may very well take the place of Holy Cole, Aimee Mann, Suzanne Vega and Madeline Peyroux in my cd collection. This British chanteuse has a fondness for Kansas City meets New Orleans jazz and has the pipes of Billie Holiday. In this day and age it’s an odd, completely noncommercial, combination – making this all the more daring and lovable.

She’s calling her style “vaudebilly”. I think that’s a nice summation of her influences. Here are two songs from her upcoming album The Kansas Session. You can attempt to pre-order this through the artist’s mailorder site Hoboshop here.

Bonecrusher [Download]

Sandman [Download]

Bonus tracks

Killer Wasps [Download]

P.S. My alter ego (or is it split personality?) Swedesplease is thrilled with new music from Detektivbyrän.

Music Blog Roundup (John Henry & The Engine, Audrey Auld, The Weight, Corey Chisel, Austin Lucas, Human Highway)

Sunday, July 20th, 2008

(Ana T. Fernandez)

WeLikeItIndie has two songs from the new record from John Henry & The Engine.

DC9 At Night has a song from Audrey Auld.

Mainstream Isn’t So Bad has something from Cory Chisel.

Can You See The Sunset From The Southside has a nice new (!?) design and lofi mountain music songs from Austin Lucas.

My Big Mouth Strikes Again has something from the new Canadian “superduo” Human Highway.

Future Sounds has a Neil Young influenced track from Brooklyn based The Weight.

Honky-Tonk Friday – Lewi Longmire’s new record “fire `neath the still”

Friday, July 18th, 2008

I sat on this disc for about a week and half. Repeated visits to confirmed that no one else was touching it. It’s a stretch to put Lewi Longmire in honky-tonk Friday; not that he can’t honky and tonk with the best of them; it’s just that he’s got a more subtle style than that. So please don’t typecast Lewi on the basis of this one bawdy, drunken, heartbroken country tune. The whole record is much more varied than this one song.

Lewi’s being presented as the ultimate sideman by his publicist. He’s played with countless bands including Michael Hurley, Victoria Williams and Tara Jane Oneil. In his new hometown of Portland, Oregon he is the go-to guitarist for just about every americana tinged band. But soon it’ll be his solo work that hopefully will put him on the map, starting with the new record fire `neath the still.

You can buy the new record fire `neath the still here via CD Baby.

Baby Would You Take Me Home [Download]

Pyscho-blues from Scissormen (plus an update on Tim Lee’s new record and a politically charged Blaze Foley cover from Timesbold)

Thursday, July 17th, 2008

Scissormen will see their first nationally distributed disc via Red Eye this September. They just played Bonnaroo and claim to have made a big splash (from the looks of the photo above I’ll take them at their word). The record is called Luck In A Hurry and is a dirty, bluesy affair.

“Tupelo” is one of the few blues songs you’ll ever hear with a vibraphone intro. It’s a mudddy, distorted track that suits its subject matter to a T.

Tupelo [Download]


I wrote up the new Tim Lee record a couple of months back. Tim Lee’s an American rock legend whether you know it or not. He’s been in several of the most influential Americans bands of the 80′s/90′s (aka The Windbreakers with Bobby Sutliff) and produced many of the others. He’s on par with Chris Stamey and Mitch Easter (heresy I know!). Anyway I came across another mp3 from his new record. The band is the Tim Lee 3 and the record is called 2Good2b3.

The song is called “I Like It Like That”. It’s got a Moe Tucker beat, an Alex Chilton b-side feel, and is a romping good time. For fans of power pop and/or Southern rock. Order the new record through Paisley Pop here.

I Like It Like That [Download]


The Bridge [Download]


A commenter on an ancient post of mine about Timesbold mentioned their Blaze Foley cover “Oval Room”. Although the song is 20 years old its message of economic turmoil and lackadaisical presidential leadership is fairly relevant today (dontcha think!?).

Oval Room [Download]

Joel Rafael’s protest song – “This Is My Country” (so unlike that Mellencamp jingoistic Chevy ad joke-of-a-song)

Wednesday, July 16th, 2008

Joel Rafael released a record on Inside Recordings (Jackson Browne) earlier this spring. I’ve only just heard of it so I think maybe it may be getting a slightly wider release this summer. Joel Rafael has written a great protest song on the new record that clearly refers back to his idol Woody Gutherie. He also covers two of Steve Earl’s more political songs, as well as getting some help from contemporaries like David Crosby and Graham Nash on backing vocals.

This song deserves to be heard in this election season and I imagine the whole record would be great especially for fans of Steve Earle, Neil Young, and Woody Gutherie.

This Is My Country [Download]

“This Is My Country” video

Elizabeth Butters’ Appalchian Folk (riyl Gillian Welch, Anthology of American Folk Music, Carter Family)

Tuesday, July 15th, 2008

Yesterday’s post was about a band stuck in the 60′s and today’s is about a singer emulating the 30′s. What gives?! Elizabeth Butters is a Boston based musician/singer who studies and performs songs from that era. In particular, she’s drawn to some of the more somber and creepy death ballads of the time. Elizabeth works at Passim Cafe as an archivist and is in demand in the New England folk circuit. She performs with a dulcimer, guitar, and usually with an accompanist on musical saw (David Goligorsky).

Seems Elizabeth Butters was born at the wrong time; besides a fascination with the music of this time and region (Appalachia, the deep South), she also performs in one of hundreds of antique formal dresses or outfits (an old nurses uniform for instance). She’ll take this insistence on historical accuracy into the studio with her as she begins recording her debut. She is in the process of recording songs onto an analog reel to reel (naturally!) with the plans of releasing them in the fall as a 10″ 33rpm LP on heavy card stock (of course!).

“Hang Me Oh Hang Me” is a perfect example of the type of song Elizabeth performs with it’s dark subject matter and antiquated sound. You can hear the musical saw warbling in the background. Elizabeth’s vocals have a naive, resigned, and childlike quality to them which makes the subject matter all the more disturbing. For more information check out Elizabeth Butters’ MySpace or read this excellent article by Colin Asher on Weekly Dig.

Hang Me Oh Hang Me [Download]
(low recording levels — turn it up!)

Elizabeth Butters with David Lamb

“Down In the Valley” with David Goligorsky

The Moondoggies – “Don’t Be a Stranger” (Hardly Art, August 19)(plus something I neglected from Tim O’Brien)

Monday, July 14th, 2008

What should we say about something that sounds so like the past that it almost seems out of place in the modern day? The Moondoggies got me thinking such a thing with their Band meets Grateful Dead sound on their debut record for the feisty little label Hardly Art (The Duchess and The Duke, Le Loup). The record is pleasant enough (ie my wife didn’t ask me to change it `til the guitar jam halfway through track 3), but it really does conjure up images of Woodstock, the 60′s, and little pink houses.

Still “`Ol Blackbird” from Don’t Be A Stranger literally jumps out of the speakers and its mix of heavy guitars, Bo Diddlyesque rhythms, blues riffs, and soulful organ make it a joy to listen to.

`Ol Blackbird [Download]


I wrote about Tim O’Brien’s record Chameleon a while back and linked to a weird remix by Danny Barnes of his song “Hoss Race” here. It’s been a long time, but finally here’s the original. You can buy Chameleon here.

Hoss Race [Download]

Music Blog Roundup (William F. Gibbs, Alejandro Escovedo, Blitzen Trapper, Setting Sun)

Sunday, July 13th, 2008

(“Tangle Theory” by Joshua Gorchov)

Athens 66 has mixed feelings about William F. Gibbs.

Hero Hill gives props to the new Alejandro Escovedo record.

Leather Canary has the new song from Blitzen Trapper (just about the only blog approved indie rock act I can stomach).

Cowboy Trance gets all nostalgic for Setting Sun.

David Viner’s “Among The Rumours and the Rye” (Loose Records, Sept 22)

Friday, July 11th, 2008

London born and occasional Detroit resident Mr. David Viner has been signed by my favorite UK label Loose Records. It’s a great signing since David Viner’s brand of folk blues relies heavily on a gothic blues underpinning that should play well in Europe (think Nick Cave, Grinderman). His debut for Loose will be out Sept. 22 and is called Among The Rumours and the Rye. The first single will be a duet featuring Jaymay called “Go Home”.

You can hear bits of blues, Rolling Stones’ swagger, English folk and more in these three unreleased tracks from Viner’s archives.

Get Through This [Download]

Easier To Cry [Download]

Rolling Along [Download]

Pokey Lafarge – “Beat, Move, Shake” (Big Muddy Records, July 21)

Thursday, July 10th, 2008

Pokey Lafarge is the real deal. How do I know this, you ask? Well just look at his MySpace touring schedule. For the last few years he’s been on the go playing every fish fry, coffeehouse, and viaduct from here to California and back again. Anybody that plays that many dates at such out of the way and unique venues has got to be serious about his music.

Pokey’s new record comes out July 21 and is called Beat, Move, and Shake (if you wonder why, just check out the video for the first single “Mr Nobody” and try to restrain that knee from knocking).

Beat, Move, and Shake is on a small label from St. Louis called Big Muddy Records. The song the label sent me is the most “country” sounding one on the disc, it’s also about Illinois so it was a bit of a no brainer. Expect the rest of the songs to be some sort of odd mix of folk, old timey, jugband, ragtime, showtunes and blues. Sounds perfect, don’t it!

Cairo, Illinois [Download]

“Mr Nobody”

Asaurus’ “Last Call” With The Mathletes new record “#$@% You And Your Cool”

Wednesday, July 9th, 2008

Asaurus is now over as a label. It sounds like it will return as some type of music blog/webzine. The label’s last release is fittingly by The Mathletes. The Mathletes are an impossible to pigeonhole lofi rock band that claims to be the best cover band in Texas, on an unrelated note the lead singer is a reluctant expert on Marmaduke comics. Think Velvet Underground meets Daniel Johnston.

I always thought music blogs were put on this earth to support ventures like Asuarus. True indie labels that don’t hire Fanatic, AAM or Force Field to create a false buzz on undeserving bands. But seeing the lack of posts about Asaurus over the last 4 years has led me to re-evaluate what the bulk of music blogs do and where their allegiances lie (ie $$$, tickets, tshirts, box sets).

The 100 disc run of #$@% You and Your Cool is sold out but maybe you can convince Mathew to burn a few more here.

That Stupid Grin On your Face [Download]

P.S. I know I’m a little biased but Swedesplease has a great post of Swedish bands doing covers fromt he 80′s here.

Lawrence’s The Roselines – New Record “Lust For Luster”

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008

A Songs:Illinois post can be a small blessing or a kiss of death. Take for instance my 2006 post on the Lawrence, Kansas band The Roselines. A quick search of shows that my post didn’t generate any other coverage and is in fact the only one ever for the band. Too bad, too, since this band continues to solidify it’s intelligent, earthy songwriting and americana vibe.

The band’s new record is called Lust For Luster and the only criticism I can dig up is perhaps it’s a bit too oblique, but in this day and age of “blog bands” that skip to the oversimplified chorus before the first verse this is more cause for celebration than concern. Get the new record here at Miles Of Music, it’s one of their “It’s A Cracker ” picks meaning it’s a 100% guaranteed.

Lions [Download]