Archive for August, 2008

Honky-Tonk Friday (UK Edition) A Southern Folk Opera By Lee’s Company

Friday, August 29th, 2008

Don’t ask me where I find this stuff cause I honestly don’t know. Just thank me in the comments;) Seriously, a folk opera of the old South by a band out of the UK, how cool is that? On the song “Southern Boys” it sounds like Joe Strummer meets Charlie Daniels and you know that can’t be bad. The band is called Lee’s Company and the new record is White Mansions.

Buy the new record here.

Southern Boys [Download]

Last Dance And The Kentucky Racehorse [Download]

David Olney – “Live At Norm’s Road House Vol 1″

Thursday, August 28th, 2008

David Olney’s Live At Norm’s River Road House Vol 1 is a hit and miss affair much like the man himself. He’s capable of writing disarmingly good songs but at other times he’s content to wallow in the kind of blustery blues rock that gives blues a bad name. When he’s at his best like on the Rounder releases High, Wide And Lonesome and Through a Glass Darkly his combination of literate, poetic lyrics and by turns somber and then preacherly delivery is hard to beat.

You can pre-order this August 26th release here now or here.

Who’s The Dummy Now [Download]

Bonus track from The Wheel:

Boss Don’t Shoot No Dice [Download]

Bonus track from The Migration
Speak Memory [Download]

Bonus track live via Folk Alley
Jerusalem Tomorrow [Download]

Gregory And The Hawk’s “Grey Weather” (Fat Cat, Oct. 13)

Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

In the entire 4 year run of Songs:Illinois I can count on one hand the number of times I found a song on another blog (here or here) and re-posted it here. But with the new song from Gregory And The Hawk I couldn’t resist. Musically “Grey Weather” sounds a bit like the song title. All minor keys and somber swaths of sound, but it’s Meredith Godreau’s childlike voice that lifts this song from a angst fueled downer into a light and airy tale of lost love.

Pre-order this Sept. release here now.

Grey Weather [Download]

Blue/Newgrass Tuesday with Red Molly plus wtf – Howard Wolfson on indie rock (plus plus George Wirth)

Tuesday, August 26th, 2008

I’ve been including a newgrassy song each and every week for as long as I can remember. Whether it’s The Duhks or Crooked Still or even The Felice Brothers I’ve tried to be a proponent of this style of music for the last few years. So now I feel like I can’t ignore this genre and the once weekly feature.

Red Molly’s new cd Love and Other Tragedies has been out since May but I’ve only just heard it. You can pick it up now through Amazon here. “Wichita” is a nice cover of the Gilian Welch tune of the same name.

Wichita [Download]


The LA Times did a piece on former Hillary Clinton campaign chairman Howard Wolfson. Surprisingly it had little to do with politics and more to do with his love of indie rock. We’re all music snobs here, right? We all think we’ve got better taste than our friends, our enemies, and certainly any talking heads on TV. So it hurts me to say this but that dude’s got some pretty fine taste in music. His music blog is still young (Gotham Acme) but it came out of the gate nicely formed (the header’s got cool and original art, cool blogroll, and a working search function). He covers some tired ground in posts about TV On The Radio and Grizzly Bear but makes up for it with posts on BLK, Francois Breut, and Kelly McRae. Also any mention of The Feelies is always appreciated by me.


George Wirth has a song on the new Red Molly cd. If the music business was a fair and balanced competition, where the best songs come out on top, you’d have probably have heard of NJ’s George Wirth by now. But if this is your first time enjoy these two songs from his debut.

Eisenhower, 1952 [Download]

Snowing In Jeruselum [Download]

McCarthy Trenching – “Calamity Drenching” (Team Love, Sept. 23)

Monday, August 25th, 2008

A music blogger needs a couple of go to labels for when the well runs dry. These labels need to have obsessively good taste, need to be free and easy with mp3′s, and for me they need to release music that speaks to the heart. Team Love is one such go to label for me. Amazingly I could probably live happily ever after with just the records they’ve released over the past few years.

The guy from McCarthy Trenching (Dan McCarthy) has been opening for and playing with many of the successful projects on Team Love including playing with Cursive, Tilly, Bright Eyes etc etc. The label has extremely high hopes for hi sophomre solo outing Calamity Drenching. The songs offered up are a combination of Bright Eyes earnestness and Felice Brother rootsyness. I know I’ve compared a number of artists to him of late but on “Roasting Song” there is a serious nod to John Prine. These songs were recorded in Dan’s living room on an 8-track which adds to their warmth and sincerity.

McCarthy Trenching is a band on Team Love. In some ways that’s enough said. Pre-order Calamity Drenching here.

Roasting Song [Download]

Mormon Girl Blues [Download]

Honky-Tonk Friday – The Wasco Brothers – “What You Doing In Abilene?”

Friday, August 22nd, 2008

(Exhibit A – bad cover art)

The new Wasco Brothers record Jackknife is proof positive that you don’t need a good press packet, band photo, cd artwork or even a good band name (I can’t not read that as Waco Brothers!) to create lasting music. The band’s new cd is a stretch for Honky-Tonk Friday as it’s said to incorporate elements of pub rock, British invasion and even a bit of psychedelia.

But the song “What You Doing…” has just the right combination of twangy telecasters and heartbreak to qualify as honky-tonk. Order Jackknife here through Miles Of Music (It’s A Cracker – 100% Guaranteed).

What You Doing In Abilene? [Download]

Mark Erelli – “Delivered” (Signature Sounds, Sept. 16)

Thursday, August 21st, 2008

I consider Songs:Illinois to be a folk music blog. It may lean a bit indie or americana at times. Or it may encompass some of the new world music that’s been cropping up (particularly any of the modern gypsy music that I’ve posted over the years) but by and large it deals with folk music – lucky for me that is a very broad term that can contain genres like blues, country, gospel, roots, etc etc.

So it should come as no surprise that I’m enamored with the folk label Signature sounds and its small stable of artists. Mark Erelli is one such artist. He’s one of a handful of singer songwriters poised to join the upper pantheon of folk artists like Greg Brown, John Prine, John Hiatt and Steve Earle. I’ve written about his music in the past. His guitar playing is simple but great sounding and his songs are consistently captivating, usually with a phrase here or there that is unforgettable.

Mark Erelli’s got a new record out on Signature Sounds called Delivered. “Five Beer Moon” leans a little more pop than folk. On it he uses his voice to great effect sounding like a combination of Nick Lowe and Elvis Costello. If you’re more of a fan of folk based finger-picked guitar check out his cover of the Greg Brown song “If I Had Known” that I just had to include even if it’s not on the new record. Pre-order Delivered here.

Five Beer Moon [Download]

Bonus cover song recorded August `08

If I Had Known [Download]

Bart Davenport’s “Places” (Antenna Farm, Sept. 9)

Wednesday, August 20th, 2008

I initially wrote about Bart Davenport (here) because he didn’t fit into any of the convenient genres and thus didn’t seem to receive his fair share of press. His style hasn’t changed much since that first post and he’s still on SF’s Antenna Farm Records. What has changed in the four years since that post is the arrival of Flight Of the Conchords. Their send-ups of 60′s lounge soul, while extremely funny, also points to the staying power of a genre that favors smooth sounds over clattering guitars and hummable vocals instead of noisy screaming.

Bart’s new record is called Palaces and comes out on Sept 9. Here’s two tracks (check out the bossa nova of “Jon Jon”) from it, plus the video for “A Young One” (which could be an outtake from Flight Of The Conchords).

A Young One [Download]

Jon Jon [Download]

“A Young One”

Hello Saferide’s new single “Anna”

Tuesday, August 19th, 2008

I’m back! Traffic to Songs:Illinois has dropped off precipitously since I left for vacation. I hope you all come back and I hope you didn’t miss me too bad! Here’s a post I put up on Swedesplease this morning but as with all things concerning Hello Saferide it deserves more attention than simply being relegated to the Swedish music grotto.


Annika Norlin’s group Hello Saferide has just released its first single from her upcoming Razzia Records sophomore effort More modern short stories from….. The song, “Anna”, continues her string of confessional pop tunes with a twist. Here she bemoans the fact that had she and her beau stayed together they could have had a wonderful, bright, young girl who could have supported them in their retirement and to whom Annika could have taught guitar. Instead she’s left with nothing; no future, no child, and no relationship.

The new record will be available on September 24. As you can imagine this is a highly anticipated release here at Swedesplease and throughout the Swedish music community. I’ll have more soon from Hello Saferide.

Anna [Download]

Saturday, August 9th, 2008

I’ll be on vacation for over a week without a laptop so expect to hear from me again on Aug. 20.

New song/album from O’death (Kemado, Oct. 28)

Friday, August 8th, 2008

O’death has finally lived up to it’s ominous name with the first track off their new CD Broken Hymns, Skin, and Limbs . The record, the band’s third, is said to be a little dark and from this one song I can see why. It certainly reminds one of “Country Death Song” by the Violent Femmes or lyrically something like “Delia’s Gone” by Johnny Cash or even the crazed bluegrass from Deliverance. Pretty heady comparisons I know, but is there a better band in the country playing this style of possessed, Appalachian folk-punk?

You can pre-order the new record here or here.

“Delia’s Gone”

“Country Death Song”

Honky-Tonk Friday (one day early) with Gin Palace Jesters

Thursday, August 7th, 2008

I’m staying in my own backyard for this week’s “Honky-Tonk Friday”. The Gin Palace Jesters are a Chicago based group of honky-tonk hillbillys. They’ve got a couple fine records out that by and large feature their own original songs about drinking, hillbilly love, and broken hearts. I’m impressed with the band’s ability to navigate between 50′s rockibilly, western swing, and hardcore country.

The band opens up for Dale Watson at Fitzgerald’s on Sept 5. Buy their new record Roadhouse Riot…And Other Songs With Words here.

Losing Her Memory [Download]

Goody Glumdrops [Download]

Bonus songs:

Lover Not a Fighter [Download]

Pomade On My Pillow [Download]

New songs/demo’s from Ed Laurie’s “Meanwhile In The Park (Dangerbird Records, Oct. 2)

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

The blogosphere was in a bit of a tizzy a month back with the announcement of the debut record from UK “folk singer”

Ed Laurie. The track “Albert” [Download]
was such a nice approximation of Leonard Cohen meets Gilberto Gil that it rightfully stoked a few fires in bloggers searching for tangible, authentic music. For now things have calmed down but expect to hear more from this artist as release date approaches.

In the meantime here are a couple demo’s. One from the new record and a bonus one that didn’t make the cut. As I’ve said before sometimes a demo is the best way to judge an artist. Stripped of any studio wizardry these songs are usually a good indication of whether the artist has the songs and the chops to succeed.

The new record, Meanwhile In The Park, comes out October 2 on Dangerbird. It was originally released in the UK in 2006.

Andalucia [Download]

Bonus demo

Midsummer’s Night Dream [Download]

And the title track from the new record

Meanwhile In The Park [Download]

Chris Knight’s “Heart Of Stone” (Drifter’s Church, Aug. 19)

Tuesday, August 5th, 2008

Chris Knight has had a storied career up to now. His music has been universally acclaimed by critics, but never fully embraced by the teeming mass of humanity.

His new record is said to change all that. And from the songs I’ve heard it does have a little more of a muscular, anthemic nature.

Pre-order Heart Of Stone now here (Drifter’s Church, Aug. 19)

Hell Ain’t Half Full [Download]

Insta-poll Johnny Cash Remixed – Yea or Nea

Monday, August 4th, 2008

This is either a really crappy idea executed badly or an atrocious idea performed poorly. What do you think? Johnny Cash Remixed.

Johnny Cash Remixed [Download]
sampler (if they could just remix this one more time and take all the crap out it’d be great…oh yeah that’s the way it sounded before they f**k’d it up)

Wilem Maker – “Stars Fell On” (Big Legal Mess/Fat Possum, Sept. 2)

Monday, August 4th, 2008

Of late Fat Possum has gotten into the reissue business. Not reissuing lost nuggets from the 50′s or even pre-war blues mind you, but instead lost classics from the past year or so. First there was the reissue of AA Bondy’s terrific solo debut and now the reissue of Wilem Maker’s self released record Stars Fell On.

“Red As A Rose” is a trance blues number that should appeal to fans of Charlie Parr and William Elliott Whitmore. It’s a bit busy in parts, but when the fog clears and you get Wilem’s possessed vocals and incendiary guitar it’s pretty special.

There’s a few copies left here or you can pick it up in September through Fat Possum.

Red As A Rose [Download]

Bonus tracks from the Big Legal Mess Records’ archive:

Goin Away [Download]
– Elmo Williams and Hezekiah Erly
Believe [Download]
– Famous L. Renfroe
Talkin It (Remix) [Download]
– T Model Ford

Honky-Tonk Friday with Austin’s Dedringers

Friday, August 1st, 2008

Here I am to fulfill my contractually mandated 1 post a day. Plus it’s honky-tonk Friday so I didn’t want to leave you high and dry on that front.

This song from the Dedringers is more of a combination Big Star meets Wilco than say the true honky-tonk of Waylon, Merle or Johnny. But with lines like these it’s clear where these young Texan’s hearts reside:

Woke up in a van sleeping down by the river
Goddamn my liver, how long have I been here?
Knocked out loaded since the trailer exploded
I aint seen the sun since the last time I voted
in ’88

The band’s new release came out in July, but is just now starting to tear up the americana charts and sympathetic radio stations like MMM in Madison. Buy Sweetheart of the Neighborhood here via Waterloo Records.

Institution [Download]