Archive for June, 2009

Rick Shea – “Shelter Valley Blues” (Self-released, July 21)(RIYL Townes, Prine, Haggard)

Tuesday, June 30th, 2009

Rick Shea’s brand of meta-physical roots music is apparent in the title track of his new record “Shelter Valley Blues”. I may not fully comprehend all the references and allusions, but with lines like “I walked into the fire slightly stoned and slightly wired to lose myself in mescaline and booze, now I’ve got no recollection of my death or resurrection” it’s pretty clear this is not simply a song or an album about typical Nashville country themes.

Pre-order this July 21st release here.

Shelter Valley Blues [Download]

P.S. All posts of late are slightly abbreviated due to the onset of summer (finally!) in Chicago. Music still rocks, even if my prose falters.

{MP3} Loudon Wainwright’s Charlie Poole Project – “High, Wide & Lonesome” (2nd Story Records, Aug 25)

Monday, June 29th, 2009

Probably despite his best efforts eveything Loudon Wainwright III touches of late turns to gold. Examples include his children’s success (Rufus and Martha), his soundtrack work, his solo stuff, and even his acting (he was pretty great in a short cameo as a an OBGYN in Knocked Up). Loudon Wainwright latest undertaking is tackling the Charlie Poole (Trailer) story.

This song is a Loudon original that tells the story of Charlie Poole’s trip to NYC to record his first record for Columbia Records. High, Wide And Lonesome – The Charlie Poole Project is due out at the end of summer. There will be a documentary film as well.

Way Up In NYC [Download]

Honky-Tonk Friday (1 Day Early) – Brooklyn’s I’ll Be John Brown

Thursday, June 25th, 2009

I’ve said it before but it bears repeating. Brooklyn is the home of some pretty kick ass alt-country/honky-tonk bands. I’ll Be John Brown is one of the latest additions to a thriving scene. Their new self-titled CD is out now and available from CD Baby here.

The band’s song “My New South” reminds me of some of the cowpunk from the 80′s (like some of the stuff by The Dead Milkmen). The band definitely infuses their twangy country with equal parts punk rock energy. “My New South” is the band’s dream vision of what the South could be like with lines like “billboards will be kindling”, “people of all colors will be all better bowlers and you’ll rarely see a cop”, “courtesy will be a cash crop and the last Walmart burns to the ground”.

The band has what sounds to be a great show coming up at the Living Room on July 4.

My New South [Download]

{MP3} Drew Nelson – Dusty Road To Beulah Land (Waterbug Records, March `09)

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2009

Well this week has turned folksy in a hurry. But that’s the way things play out sometimes. It took me a couple of weeks to get permission to share this song from Drew Nelson since he was on tour in UK. But I’m glad I finally did. In a number of ways this song, “Grandmother Moon”, reminds me of Greg Brown. The ending chorus when Drew repeats the phases “Shine a little brighter now” and “Just a little bit, just a little bit of moonshine” is right out of the Greg Brown playbook, as is the theme of small town life altered for eternity by large corporations (most notably in Drew’s lyric “the empty shell of what used to be our neighborhood hardware store”). This is all a good thing (the comparison to Greg Brown that is) since I think Greg Brown has lost some of his lyrical thunder of late and we need younger singer-songwriters to step up.

Drew’s new record is called Dusty Road To Beulah Land and is available now on the Chicago based folk label Waterbug Records (here).

Grandmother Moon [Download]

Drew and friends covers “I’m a Little Catfish”

New EP from Chuck E. Costa

Monday, June 22nd, 2009

Chuck E. Costa is just the type of artist that Songs:Illinois was created for. He’s completely independent, has released several acclaimed lp’s and ep’s, and tours regularly playing folk festivals, coffeehouses and small clubs/theaters. But there’s not a word of him on any other blog despite having a new ep out called At The Drawing Board. I’m not going to try to convince you that you’ll all fall in love with his music. But if you are a fan of acoustic folk a la John Gorka, Darden Smith or Ellis Paul than he definitely deserves a listen.

Here’s the title track “At The Drawing Board”; the ep can be purchased here.

At The Drawing Board [Download]


When the City Comes [Download]

Able [Download]

Honky-Tonk Friday (on Thursday!) – Arty Hill and the Long Gone Daddy’s

Thursday, June 18th, 2009

If you’re like me and are wondering who the hell Arty Hill and the Long Gone Daddy’s is and why their 5 year old debut record Back On the Rail is in the top ten of the Americana Charts then let me explain. the band’s debut has just recently been re-released. And apparently this 5 year old honky-tonk is better than most of the stuff coming out at the moment. Unfortunately I don’t have anything from Back On The Rail but check out these samples from the band’s followup Bar Of Gold.

I may all be a little late catching up with Arty Hill but now that I have them on my radar I’m going to play closer attention. Their next project is a Hank Williams tribute that mixes covers with originals called Montgomery On My Mind: The Hank EP.

Tore Up Junction [Download]

Don’t Take It Out On Tina [Download]

Amy Allison – “Sheffield Streets: (Urban Myth, June 23)

Wednesday, June 17th, 2009

Amy Allison has a unique vocal delivery. Much like her dad, Mose Allison. I like both. Amy Allison’s new record is out soon on Urban Myth Records (June 23). Like her dad she combines jazz, blues and torch styles to create her own genre. Special guests include Elvis Costello, Van Dyke Parks, Dave Alvin and of course Mose Allison.

Why Must It Be [Download]

Exclusive new song from Richmond Fontaine (Trash Aesthetics, July 20)

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

The English label Trash Aesthetics brings us new music by Richmond Fontaine via a limited edition 7″ out on July 20th. The 7″ will be released with a hand silk screened cover, a short story by Wily and other goodies. If you can’t wait for the band’s next release due out in September or you are a completest when it comes to Richmond Fontaine you’ll want to pick up this 7″.

On the A-side single “You Can Move Back Here” the band conjures up the best of the early Replacements as well as keeping the classic Richmond Fontaine sound in tact. Whereas this song is a well produced rocker (for this band) the b-side, “Now You Know It Too”, is a melancholy ballad full of atmospheric acoustic guitar and achingly beautiful vocals. More info on this release here.

BTW Trash Aesthetics will release The Tailors long awaited album “Come Dig Me Up” in September…

You Can Move Back Here [Download]

{MP3} Sarah Jarosz – “Song Up In Her Head” (Sugar Hill, June 16)

Friday, June 12th, 2009

Sarah Jarosz got more attention than any banjo wielding 18 year old could hope to expect from the indie rock music world a few weeks back with the release of her Decemberists cover “Shankill Butchers” (here). I hope now that her Sugar Hill debut is about to be released those same sites continue to write about this up and coming Austin based folk artist.

“Song Up In Her Head” is the title track of her debut on Sugar Hill which is due out June 16th. Sarah’s a talented musician and has a velvet voice that suits her blend of bluegrass/newgrass perfectly. I’m no expert but those in the know (Tim O’Brien and Abigail Washburn) have been singing her praises for a while now. Order the new record now here and be entered into a Sugar Hill contest.

Song Up In Her Head [Download]

Leeroy Stagger’s new record “Everything Is Real” (Boompa Records, April 28)

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

The Canadian label Boompa Records has released the latest record from Leeroy Stagger. His name itself conjures up southern fried rock, Dukes of Hazzard, and gumbo don’t you think? His music though is pretty straight ahead roots rock. But it’s solid stuff. His song “Petrified World” off the new record Everything Is Real is filled with plenty of clever lines about life on the road as a traveling indie musician.

Everything Is Real features guest musicians and singers like Tim Easton, Neal Casal, and Evan Phillips (The Whipsaws). Buy the new record here now.

Petrified World [Download]

Danny Chaimson and the 11th Hour – “Young Blood Old Soul” (Cold classic Records, Aug. 11)

Wednesday, June 10th, 2009

Danny Chaimson and the 11th Hour may be poseurs from LA. I have no way of knowing for sure but I have my suspicions. Nonetheless what’s obvious is that the band is tight and play a blend of soul and funk that is seldom heard these days. Think Jack Johnson on amphetamines. Also Danny’s originally from Chicago so that goes a long way with me (obviously).

Young Blood Old Soul is out Aug. 11 on Danny’s own imprint Cold Classic Records. Here’s “Bobblehead Girl” and a little ditty about LA called “LaLa”.

Bobblehead Girl [Download]

LaLa [Download]

Cub Country – “Stretch That Skull Cover And Smile” (Future Farmer, Aug. 11)

Monday, June 8th, 2009

My post on Cub Country’s record Stay Poor Stay Happy had to be one of the first dozen or so on the original Blogspot version of Songs:Illinois. Needless to say I have a soft spot for the band and was eagerly awaiting word of their new one on Future Farmer. Well it seems HeroHill let the cat out of the proverbially bag with a review of two songs from the new one – Stretch That Skull Cover And Smile.

Here’s my addition to what will hopefully become an onslaught of music blog coverage. “After The Songs Been Sung” sounds like a semi-autobiographical song about life on the road and particularly when the stage lights fade to black. The band and this album will probably be characterized as some type of hybrid alt-country, but to me this song sounds more like the stop/start indie rock of Big Dipper (especially the pinched vocals). More info about the new release here.

After The Songs Been Sung (Via Magnet [Download]

Howard Eliott Payne – “Bright Light Ballads”

Thursday, June 4th, 2009

I’d like to add my voice to the handful of music blogs that have been praising the debut release from Howard Eliott Payne (Candie Payne’s brother and formerly The Stand frontman). Both You Crazy Dreamers and Music Like Dirt have featured the music from Bright Light Ballads and I’d just like to throw one more voice (and song) into the mix.

Howard actually had me at the cover art. It certainly harkens back a few decades to the artwork of Dylan, Young and Parson albums. Much the same can be said about the low key music found inside. While a few songs like “Come Down Easy” reach a gospel-like crescendo, more often they are minor masterpieces like “Dangling Threads” and “Until Morning”. These songs are more self assured than usually found on a debut.

Buy it here.

Dangling Threads [Download]


Come Down Easy (via You Crazy Dreamers [Download]
Until Morning (via Music Like Dirt [Download]

Chris Volpe – “Shipwrecked!” (Self-released, May 15)

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Chris Volpe does a pretty good imitation of Todd Snider’s clever talkin’ blues style. On “Dusty Bibles” Chris Volpe adds a pretty mean saxophone part, as well as extremely topical lyrics about Iraq, Serbia, and David Karesh. Although I’m not religious as a rule, I do think Chris’ chorus of “Dusty bibles leads to dirty lives” serves up a dose of reality about the moral ambiguity the world is presently struggling with.

Here’s “Dusty Bibles” off of Chris’ new record Shipwrecked!. Buy it here.

Dusty Bibles [Download]

Willy Porter – “How To Rob A Bank” (Weasel Records, June 2)

Tuesday, June 2nd, 2009

Willy Porter is a mid-west boy through and through. He’s quite successful in the Chicago market as well as surrounding markets like Milwaukee, Madison, Ann Arbor etc. His Midwestern values shine through on the title track of his new record called “How To Rob A Bank”. It’s a bitter look at the way large corporations have plundered the nation.

Instead of barging down the door and heading straight for the vault the robber in “Bank” joins the bank’s board, hangs out in country clubs “farting in velvet couches”, and begins his corporate raiding. The song is an indictment of the robber barons of Wall Street, the politicians in Washington and the people supposedly in charge of minding the proverbial store. It’s all put together in a song that musically reminds me of Loudon Wainwright or Todd Snider.

The new record was released today and is available here.

How To Rob A Bank [Download]

P.S. There’s a much longer live-in-the-studio version in the midst of a podcast interview with Willy Porter via Dylan Bolin – highly recommended)

this podcast [Download]

Daddy – “For A Second Time” (Self-release, June 16)

Monday, June 1st, 2009

I’m only tracking a few bands on Myspace, Facebook or Twitter. I’m just not that methodical or organized to follow more. For some strange reason the band Daddy is one of these few bands. I like both Tommy Womack and Will Kimbrough as solo artists. So it’s a no brainer that I’d like Daddy which is the band that combines these two iconoclastic rock `n’ rollers. I’ve written about the band here and their solo careers here and here.

The band is pretty serious about their ReverbNation page and that’s the best place to pre-order this June 16th release (at a name your own price amount). “Early To Bed Early To Rise” is a song that puts the real world in perspective for a bunch of graduating college seniors. It’s the real world according to Tommy and Will. A world of letdowns, early mornings and the drudgery of daily life set to a rock n roll soundtrack and a steady backbeat.

Early To Bed Early To Rise [Download]


There’s a bunch of new stuff that I should be telling you all about but just haven’t. I’ve neglected it in part because several other fine + worthy music blogs have been on these band’s cases since before the records came out. In each case I’ve noted where I first read/heard/learned about each release.

Safety Of A Back – Trainwreck Riders (via Hero Hill [Download]
Still Drunk, Still Crazy, Still Blue – Scott H Birham (via Nine Bullets [Download]
Walkin On the Devil’s Backbone – Ha Ha Tonka (via Hear Ya [Download]

There now we’re all caught up!