Archive for March, 2009

Terry Anderson and the Olympic Ass-Kickin Team – “National Champions” (Doublenaught Records)

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

I try to write about real rock `n roll as much as possible on Songs:Illinois but despite all the talk about a resurgence of rock (a la Jack White and others) I don’t find a lot of bands of this ilk that I want to write about. Terry Anderson and Olympic Ass-Kickin Team is one that I do. Terry has played with and written songs for various Dan Baird enterprises as well as for the Yayhoos (everyone’s favorite super group, right?).

The band’s new record is called National Champions and I’m told it moves from one bar band rocker to the next. “Pow`Ful `Merka” lets loose with scuzzy guitar licks and cheesy organ fills but at the same time takes a close look at the declining American culture.

National Champions can be pre-ordered now through the band’s label Doublenaught Records here.

Pow`Ful `Merka [Download]

Bonus back catalog:

Hi `N Dry [Download]

Thunderbird [Download]

One of the nice things about a post about Terry Anderson is that I can revisit and at least repost songs from labelmates The Cartridge Family. I loved these guys when I first posted about them here.

Alone, I’m a Loser [Download]

Shine Like a Botle [Download]

{MP3} Jill Sobule – “California Years” (Pinko Records, April 14)

Friday, March 27th, 2009

Jill Sobule’s all grown up. She’s given up on the label system and like several of the artists this week is releasing a fan funded record on her own label. I’ve never been a big fan of Jill Sobule (I liked her “hits” as much as the next guy though) but since Songs:Illinois’ mission statement is to support artists that are independent and doing it mostly themselves I can’t help but do a post on this new record.

California Years comes out April 14 on Jill’s own label. The song “San Francisco” continues to explore the lesbian characters and relationships Jill Sobule has spotlighted her entire career. While “Good Life” is a quirky little tale of love populated with aliens, earthquakes, and total armageddon. The record was produced by Don Was. So even though it’s diy its still got great sound.

Pre-order the new record here.

San Francisco [Download]


A Good Life [Download]

More about Jill’s new fan funded record via CNN:

P.S. Jill Sobule temporarily replaced “Honky Tonk Friday” so if you need your fill check out the songs posted by Aquarium Drunkard from the new compilation God Less America.

{MP3} Tim Easton – “Porcupine” (New West Records, April 28)

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

One of the interesting products I saw at SXSW promoting a band’s music didn’t involve trendy usb drives, twitter widgets, or recording software. Instead it was a custom-made, hand-painted, vinyl record cover from Tim Easton.

Tim Easton’s new record is called Porcupine and it’ll be out on New West soon, but the vinyl is apparently available now (at the Yard Dog Cafe in Austin at least). Each lp cover was a different painiting done by Tim, but all were loosely based on the Porcupine image below. The price was a gasp inducing $80 each Which almost seemed worth it since you get a piece of artwork and a heavy duty slab of vinyl as well.

“Burgundy Red” is a prickly rock `n’ roll song that may give a clue to the record title. If the entire record is anything like the song above it’ll be a barn burner.

Burgundy Red [Download]

{MP3} Scott Miller And Commonwealth – “For Crying Out Loud” (F.A.Y Records, April 21)

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Scott Miller’s had a successful solo career since leaving the V-Roys. He has released three consistently good records on Sugar Hill. He has worked with Patty Griffin, Tim O’Brien, and Jim Dickinson and he has toured the country religiousely for years.

All that hard work has led to releasing his new fan funded record on his own label. Of the five bands profiled this week on Songs:Illinois Scott Miller is the third to go this route. I’d call that a trend. His new record is titled For Crying Out Loud. Scott’s been known in the past for his humorous songs and I’m sure there are plenty on this record. But I’ve only heard this one song and it’s the last one on the record and closes it out with a whimper rather than a bang.

Buy For Crying Out Loud here.

Appalachian Refugee [Download]

Michelle Shocked – Soul Of My Soul (Mighty Sound Records, May 12)

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

Anyone my age who had a broad interest in music probably has a Michelle Shocked story. Whether it was seeing her live or simply being struck by those darned crickets in her debut release. She was surprisingly successful for a few years back in the late 80′s. I only say surprisingly because her music was so great but also so rural that her success was a complete anomaly.

Over the last decade or so she has been an outsider, experimenting with various genre’s and sounds (most recently reggae and gospel). While her new record, Soul Of My Soul, doesn’t return her completely to her roots, it is more accessible than recent works and probably more palatable to her early fans. The song “Pompeii” takes jabs at the US way of life with it’s failed democracy and corporate hegemony but it does so with a tropical beat, soothing backup singers, and her new “soul” sound.

Pompeii [Download]

“Other People” video

{MP3} Slaid Cleaves – “Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away” (Music Road Records, April 21)

Monday, March 23rd, 2009

Slaid Cleaves may not be the king of Austin singer-songwriters, that title still belongs to Willie Nelson, but he is certainly one of it’s Princes. Thus it was important for me to pay my respects on my last night in Austin. Slaid was the headliner at the famed Cactus Cafe on a night filled with the cream of the crop from Austin and beyond (Sam Baker, Rod Picot and Amanda Shire, Gurf Morlix, Matt the Electrician, and Graham Weber). He was there touting a bunch of new songs from his upcoming self released record Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away.

“Cry” is the title track and according to Slaid’s bio sets the tempo/theme for the record, “Whether it’s your loved ones, your way of life, or even just your sense of innocence and hope, every song in some way is about how it all gets taken away.” Slaid has left the comfy confines of the Rounder Records behomoth and joined the co-op label Music Road Records founded by friend and musician Jimmy LaFave. Slaid now has his destiny in his own hands with this new diy route, ““I’m in on all the decisions,” says Cleaves. “It feels good to have so much more control over my fate now. I figured, I cut my own hair, I fix my own car — so why shouldn’t I be the one responsible for getting this work of mine out into the world?”

“Cry” is relentlessly down with lines like “every blue sky fades to gray”, “watch your little heart get crushed” and of course “everything you love will get taken away”. But it’s cathartic as well. I’m still listening to the entire record but this song and the others Slaid played live bode well.

You can (and should) pre-order this April 21st release here though Amazon.

Cry [Download]

“One Good Year”

Stream more songs here:


Exclusive MP3 from Embarrassing Fruits’ new record “Community/Exploitation” (Trekky Records, March 24)

Thursday, March 19th, 2009

It’d be hard not to write about Embarrassing Fruits even if I didn’t love them. That’s because several comments from my earlier review of the band turned up in their new bio. I was pleasantly surprised to read the other reviews of the band’s first EP. Other reviewers came to the same conclusion I did and that was that the band updates the best of the early indie rock scene (Dinosaur Jr., Sonic Youth, Superchunk).

Seeing that I gave them a rave review last time out I thought I’d pull some strings and get an exclusive song to share. “Details” is an autobiographical tale of suburban teenagedom with references to 40′s, gravel roads, hanging out in parking lots, and soccer socks. The song is a hazy, somber, and melancholy take on growing up featuring plenty of fuzzy guitars and misanthropic vocals.

The new record is called Community/Exploitation and is out on Trekky Records. It’s highly recommended.

Details [Download]

Bonus mp3:

Corner [Download]

{MP3} Po’ Girl – New Record – “Deer In The Night” (Self, April/May)

Tuesday, March 17th, 2009

Wow! Sometimes it’s a real struggle finding something you guys might like. My first problem is I picture you as a horde of very tough critics who come to Songs:Illinois for a very specific sound or at least a certain feel. The second problem is my very strict, self-imposed posting criteria. In a nutshell I like the mp3′s I post to be the first, legal sampling of a new release you’re going to find on the web.

Long story short. Here’s some new music by Vancouver’s eclectic folk/jazz duo Po’ Girl. Their new album Deer In The Night comes out in April in the US and May in Europe. It was recorded in Austin and has a rootsy and soulful sound. “Gandy Dancer” highlights the gypsy influences of the band while “Dig Me A Hole” somehow marries jazz (clarinet) with bluegrass (banjo).

Pre-order the new record here.

Gandy Dancer [Download]

Dig [Download]

SXSW Preview – Freedy Johnston, Matt The Electrician, Adam Carroll, Dao Strom, Dana Falconberry, Beaver Nelson, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Ben Mallot, and Troy Campbell

Monday, March 16th, 2009

(Ben Mallot – “Shoes”)

It’s the pleasant little surprises at SXSW that are special. Last year’s house concert on the outskirt of Austin was unplanned and a highlight of my time in Austin. And while it sounds like an oxymoron here’s the “surprise” must see show this year. In fact it’s not just one show but three days of fantastic lineups at Flipnotics Coffeespace on Thursday, Friday or Saturday.

I cherry picked some of the great artists you could see and linked to a few choice cuts, but on any given day/night you could see one of Austin’s local favorites or a surprise out of town act. Here’s who I like Freedy Johnston, Matt The Electrician, Adam Carroll, Dao Strom, Dana Falconberry, Beaver Nelson, Scrappy Jud Newcomb, Ben Mallot, and Troy Campbell but your mileage may vary.

If all goes well I’ll rest my tired feet here from 3pm til close on Saturday. Check out the entire lineup after the mp3′s.

I Want It All – Ben Mallot [Download]

Lebanon, Missouri – Dao Strom [Download]

Famous – Troy Campbell [Download]

Minuteman – Beaver Nelson [Download]

Rice Birds – Adam Carroll [Download]

Love Will Never Leave You Alone [Download]
– Dana Falconberry
Look Down That Road – Ralph White [Download]


O-John Brodeur(New York, NY): 7-7:45
I-The Blue Hit(ATX): 8-8:45
O-Pezzettino(Milwaukee, WI): 9-9:45
I-Moriarity(New York/Paris): 10-10:45
I-Amy Annelle(ATX): 11-11:45

O-J Kleinberg(San Francisco, CA): 7-7:45
O-Matt the Electrician(ATX): 8-8:45
O-Southpaw Jones(ATX): 9-9:45
I-Owen Egerton(ATX)w/ Cowboy and Indian(Long Island, NY): 10-10:45
I-Tune-Yards(Montreal, Canada): 11-11:45

O-CHOO CHOO(Bern, Switzerland): noon-12:40
O-2 Dollar Bash(Berlin, Germany): 1-1:40
O-Erin Ivey(ATX): 2-2:40
O-Ohtis(Bloomington, IL): 3-3:40
O-Brother George(Chicago, IL): 4-4:40
O-Freedy Johnston(ATX): 5-5:40
O-Boxcar Preachers(ATX): 6-6:45
I-Datri Bean(ATX): 6:45-7:30
O-Dao Strom(Juneau, AK): 7:30-8:15
I-Betty Soo(ATX): 8:15-9
O-Jess Klein(ATX): 9-9:45
I-Libby Kirkpatrick(ATX): 9:45-10:30
I-Molly Venter(ATX): 10:30-11:15
I-Aimee Bobruk(ATX): 11:15-midnight

O-Chris Brecht (ATX): 11-11:40am
O-Sister Suvi(Montreal, Canada): noon-12:40
O-Tiny Tin Hearts(ATX): 1-1:40
O-John Lilly(Charelston, WV): 2-2:40
O-Elisa Ferrari(ATX): 3-3:40
O-Danny Malone(ATX): 4-4:40
O-Dana Falconberry(ATX): 5-5:40
O-Ben Mallott(ATX): 6-6:45
I-Troy Campbell(ATX): 6:45-7:30
O-Scrappy Jud(ATX): 7:30-8:15
I-Beaver Nelson(ATX): 8:15-9
O-Romantica(Minneapolis, MN): 9-9:45
I-Adam Carrol(ATX)l: 9:45-10:30
O-Lee Barber(ATX): 10:30-11:15
I-Ethan Azarian(ATX): 11:15-midnight
I-Jane Bond(ATX): 12:15-1AM

O-Dear Sombrero(ATX): noon-12:40
O-So-Han(ATX): 1-1:40
O-Ralph White(ATX): 2-2:40
O-Lost Pines(ATX): 3-3:40
O-Lonesome Heroes(ATX): 4-4:40
O-Chuck Fleming(ATX): 5-5:40
O-The Blank Tapes(San Francisco, CA): 6-6:40
O-Electric Mountain Rotten Apple Gang(ATX): 7-7:40
O-John Clay and the Lost Austin Band(ATX): 8:00-8:45
O-Double Eagle Stringband(ATX): 8:45-9:30
O-Hogeye(ATX): 9:30-10:15
O-McMercy Family Band(ATX): 10:15-11:00

{MP3} SXSW Preview – MP3′s from AustinSound’s new compilation (The Golden Boys, T Bird and the Breaks, The Lonesome Heroes) and SXSW Day Show (Tom Brosseau, Dana Falconberry, The Shivers)

Friday, March 13th, 2009

Every city deserves a locals only website that serves the music community with such breadth and depth as AustinSound does. For the past three years right around SXSW AustinSound has released a free compilation of the best of Austin’s Independent bands. This year they’ve upped the ante with a 2 stage free day party.

AustinSound’s compilations are usually pretty inclusive, so while they may focus on “indie rock” they also include all the music that is fermenting around the edges of that term. On Sound Advice Vol III: Starry Eyes the guys at AustinSound have curated another great CD. And long story short here’s a couple of the bands/songs I like.

Shortcut To Memphis [Download]
– The Golden Boys
Blackberry Brandy [Download]
– T Bird And the Breaks
Canary [Download]
– The Lonesome Heroes

Here’s the lineup for their 2 stage Day Show on Friday March 20 (I plan on taking in a big chunk of that outdoor stage):

The Now Playing Austin Sound Day Show
Friday March 20th @ Creekside Lounge

KOOP’s Now Playing Austin Stage (inside)
12:15 Pop Unknown
1:00 BASIC
1:45 Oh No! Oh My!
2:30 Black Before Red
3:15 Corto Maltese
4:00 Lemurs
4:45 Loxsly
5:15-5:45 or 6 Buisnessman Djs (and in between sets) stage: (outside)
noon- Gina Dvorak (austin)
12:45 – Ferraby Lionheart (LA)
1:30 – the lovely sparrows (austin)
2:15 – fight bite (denton, tx)
3:00 – tom brosseau (LA)
3:45 – dana falconberry (austin)
4:30 – peter and the wolf (to be billed as “mellow owl”) (austin)
5:15 – the shivers (queens, NY)

PS Swedesplease has an exclusive first listen to the upcoming CD from The Tiny here.

{MP3} Richard Shindell – Not Far Now (Signature Sounds, April 21)

Thursday, March 12th, 2009

Sometimes I labor over a post wondering if the music is good enough, if the artist is “legit” enough or simply if I care enough. That’s not the case with a Richard Shindell post. The man is clearly in the upper echelon of the folk world. And his stature and music has only grown since his move to Argentina. With each new release he continues to blend the culture of Buenos Aires with his original homeland of New Jersey, it’s an odd, beguiling combination.

It’s been too long since his last record of original songs though. His covers record South Of Delia tided us over for a time with it’s reinterpretations of classics from Bob Dylan, Woody Gutherie and Bruce Springsteen (and new classics from Josh Ritter and Jeffrey Foucault). The new record is called Not Far Now (Signature Sounds) and Richard describes how he knew it was time to record a new album below:

“There are various subtle indications that it is time to make a new album,” he explains from his adopted hometown of Buenos Aires. “Like when my fans start looking at me funny, when I’ve run through every puzzle at every level in the sudoku book, or when my children start to ask me what I do for a living…”

The song I linked to is about a mule. Apparently it’s a song that Richard has been performing live and that people respond to for the obvious reasons:

“Of the eleven songs on this record,” Shindell reflects, “there are three that have shown up pretty regularly in my live sets during the past year or two. People seem to like ‘Clara’ the most, as do I. This is perhaps explained by the fact that Clara is a mule, and people generally like songs about mules.”

Buy it here.

Get Up Clara [Download]

Bonus mp3′s

Che Guevera T-Shirt [Download]

The Last Fare Of The Day [Download]

Arrowhead [Download]
The Courier [Download]
Abuelita [Download]

You Stay Here [Download]

SXSW Preview – The Jayhawks (sort of)

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009

I know there’s a couple people missing and boy it’d be great to have that original lineup back together, but until it happens Mark and Gary are still our best bet. I’ve read great things about this tour. Apparently the harmonies are still gorgeous and the guitar work by each has been exemplary. And what better place to see them than in the refined Victorian Room at The Driskill on Wednesday, March 18. Get there early (10:30 PM) and have the added bonus of seeing fellow mid-westerners Joe Pug and Haely Bonar.

Turn Your Pretty Name Around [Download]

Bonus mp3′s:

Hymn #1 [Download]
– Joe Pug
Big Star [Download]
– Haley Bonar

Steve Forbert – “Stolen Identity” off of the new record “The Place And The Time” (March 31)

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

I don’t think of Steve Forbert (here, here and here) as a lighthearted or particularly funny songwriter, but this new song from the upcoming LP The Place And The Time is just that. It reminds me more of a Loudon Wainwright song than a classic Steve Forbert tune.

Pre-order an autographed copy here from Steve Forbert.

{Abbreviated post due to a nasty intestinal bug – you don’t want to hear the details!}

Stolen Identity [Download]

Bonus Live and Rare tracks:

Friend Of The Devil [Download]
Romeo’s Tune [Download]
Thinkin’ [Download]

SXSW Preview And New Record – Eilen Jewell “Sea Of Tears (Signature Sounds, April 21)

Monday, March 9th, 2009

Eilen Jewell knew she’d hear it from her fans on the release of her new record Sea of Tears. I’m a big fan of her music to the point that I hosted a house concert for her a few years back. And no matter how this new record shakes out I’ll still be a fan.

So what’s the rub? Well, like Dylan before her Eilen has shifted gears from a rural based folk sound (country, western swing, etc) to a more urban, guitar-heavy early rock ‘n’ roll sound. You can hear this very clearly on “Shaking All Over” with it’s chuggga chugga surf guitar riffs and it’s reverb drenched sound. Pre-order the new record here.

Eilen Jewell is appearing at The Velveeta Room at SXSW on March 18. Catch her live show if you can – I bet she’ll mix up all her various influences into a roots rock gumbo.

Shaking All Over (via Cover Lay Down via Beat Surrender [Download]

Friends of Songs:Illinois

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

I need a small favor ( a little love!) from regular, committed readers to this blog. I’m not sure how many of you there are but any help you can give would be appreciated. You see Hype Machine (the blog aggregator that many music blogs get traffic from) has changed some of it’s settings. For this blog to be listed there it needs to be in the top 100. That’s measured by a combination of Technorati links, Delicious bookmarks and “watchers” on Hype Machine. If you can help me out by linking to or bookmarking my blog from any of these services that’d be much appreciated.

SXSW Preview – New song from Tom Brosseau’s upcoming CD “Posthumous Success” (Fat Cat, May 11)

Friday, March 6th, 2009

It’s been a couple of hours since I received an email announcing Tom
new record Posthumous Success (on Fat Cat) and a link to a song off of it. I held back on posting it despite Tom being one of my favorite singer-songwriters because I figured it’d be all over the blogs by now, but still no sight of it.

There’s talk that this new record will be darker, different, fuller, richer but it sounds to me like classic Tom Brousseau. Crystal clear picked and strummed acoustic guitar accompanied by upper register vocals that make his simple blues songs seem almost otherworldly. “Favorite Color Blue” is so quiet in fact that you can hear the cars streaming by in the instrumental introduction. “Big Time” on the other hand features the bigger, bolder sound that the press release describes but it’s in the seconds before the drums kick in that the song has emotional weight. The drums are merely a distraction from Tom’s voice, guitar, and lyrics.

Tom’s got three shows so far during SXSW. Here are the dates. I’ll be at at least one of them (don’t want to appear to be a stalker!).

20 Mar Creekside 3pm SXSW
20 Mar Hilton Garden 9pm SXSW
21 Mar Longbranch Inn 215pm SXSW

Favorite Color Blue [Download]

Bonus track from Posthumous Success:

Big Time [Download]

Honky-Tonk Friday – W/ L.A. based Old Californio and their new record “Westering Again” (Self, April 4)

Friday, March 6th, 2009

I got an email with a long backstory about the band Old Californio and their new album Westering. For me the whole thing was a waste of space. Not that the email wasn’t informative and well written but the key fact for me was that Dave Gleason is a fan and plays on the record. That’s all that needed to be said. See, Dave Gleason (and his west coast consorts like Mike Stinson and Tracy Huffman) has been making some of the best alt-country honky-tonk for a decade or so now. His stamp of approval goes a long way.

The new record is due out April 21st and was produced by Alfonso Rodeñas (Mark Olson / Ben Vaughn/ Los Tigres Del Norte). Westering Again was recorded in a converted garage that used to serve as a chicken coup and you can hear that rootsiness in the song “Mother Road”. You can also hear nods to the Grateful Dead, Wilco, Jayhawks and Gram Parsons. The band is celebrating the release of the new record on April 5 at The Grand Ole Echo.

Mother Road [Download]

Sarah MacDougall “Across The Atlantic” (February 22, Copperspine Records

Thursday, March 5th, 2009

I’m generally against animal cruelty. But I can’t overlook this opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Sarah MacDougall is an ex pat Swede living in Vancouver. Her brand of polished folk pop is perfect for Songs:Illinois while her Nordic routes make her an ideal artist for Swedesplease. Sarah’s new record, Across The Atlantic, came out this year on the excellent little label Copperspine.

“Crow’s Lament” is a great example of the eclectic nature of this new record. The song’s a whirling dervish of a tune about death. It features Sarah’s lusty vocals, some of the unusual instrumentation from the record (dobro, weissenborn, lapsteel, odd percussion, rhodes, and pedal steel) and clever lyrics.

You can buy the new record here or here (and I heartily recommend that you do!).

Crow’s Lament [Download]

Solo Accordion from Michael Lambright (Madagascar)

Wednesday, March 4th, 2009

I still get a lot of pr emails despite my attempt at unsubscribing from each and ever pr company mailing list. Any pr emails that get through
I promptly delete or ignore.

Music bloggers have been saying for awhile that the best way to get us to write about your stuff is through a personal email. Unfortunately artists, labels, and pr types were listening. So we all got a ridiculous number of emails saying something to the effect of: “I really like your blog. I see that you’ve written about so and so. I really love so and so. Btw this new artist is a lot like so and so.” But they really aren’t.

So now I ignore all those emails as well.

My new thing is humble little emails. This one from Michael Lambright (the accordion player from the band Madagascar) I really liked.

Also, I released a short album of solo accordion music last year and forgot to mention it to anyone. The album is called Allumwandlung and it’s free to download and share under a Creative Commons license.

Here’s the song “Poirot” from Allumwandlung:

Poirot [Download]

Bonus song from Madagascar:

Goodbye East, Goodbye West [Download]

P.S. Madagascar’s most recent record, Goodbye East, Goodbye West, is now available on vinyl here.

Jeffrey Foucault covers John Prine on his new record “Shoot The Moon Between The Eyes” (Signature Sounds, Feb. 17)

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

“When I was seventeen my Dad brought me home John Prine’s first album and it became my private religion for a while. I learned to play the guitar by learning his songs, and my Dad and I still play them around the table after supper. They’ve kept me company for years, in hotel rooms and foreign countries, on stage and away from it, telling the truth in beautiful and unexpected ways. This is a record I always wanted to make.”

The quote above reflect Jeffrey Foucult’s feelings on John Prine and form the basis for his new Prine cover record, but they could probably be the feelings of anyone who has heard Prine’s songs. I imagine that every Prine fan has a story about how his records or songs affecting them or changed them in one way or another.

These songs were recorded with friends (David Goodrich, Mark Erelli, Kris Delmhorst, Peter Mulvey) in the president’s office of an old bank. They’re lofi folk songs performed with an ease and relaxed manner that is uncommon in this age of studio trickery. Shoot The Moon Right Between The Eyes came out Feb. 17 on Signature Sounds. Order it here.

The Late John Garfield Blues [Download]

Billy the Bum [Download]