Archive for November, 2009

{MP3} Chris Coole – “Old Dog” (self-released, Dec. 8)

Monday, November 30th, 2009

A couple weeks back Canadian based blogs Herohill, Slowcoustic, and Chicago based Song:Illinois (here) went a little overboard over Canadian singer-songwriter Cam Penner. There was some good natured ribbing and recrimination over the fact that I was first to discover this excellent Canadian singer-songwriter in their own backyard. Now I hate to say it but I’m going to do it again.

Chris Coole is a Toronto based clawhammer banjo player of some renown (in fact he may be one of the best in the world). He’s played with and for some great artists over the years (Jenny Whiteley, Jim Cuddy, Sylvia Tyson, and Justin Rutledge.) But it’s with this, his first solo record, Old Dog, that Chris has really stepped out/up. The album features 5 original songs as well as some traditional numbers and covers of songs by The Band, John Hartford and Dave Dudley. The record also features friends on fiddle, pedal steel, mandola, cello and percussion. The song styles range from traditional folk to honky-tonk to contemporary bluegrass. I like that Old Dog has a nice, easy, casual feel. The record sounds organic and the songs are a natural for Chris’ laid back vocal delivery and masterful guitar/banjo playing.

It was hard to pick just one song since there’s a variety of styles on the record and since there are so many fine songs. But I forced myself to choose one and it’s the Chris Coole original “Hell To Pay” (although a close second was either the title track “Old Dog”, the duet called “The Bottle Got The Best Of Me” that reminded me of Prine/Dement, or the John Hartford cover “Wish We Had Our Time Together”).

Buy Old Dog here through Elderly Instruments.

Hell to Pay [Download]

New record from Mark Eitzel (AMC) – “Klamath”

Wednesday, November 25th, 2009

Mark Eitzel (American Music Club) has quietly released another in a string of interesting solo records. This one is only available from him direct from his website. AMC was one of the most important bands in my musical upbringing. The raw emotion and power of the songs and Mark’s persona were at times overwhelming. As a result of my initial near infatuation I’ve tried to follow everything the band and Mark personally have ever done. I’m not a completest but I’ve tried my best to keep up.

It’s no surprise that the new record is moody and at times grim. And at times the songs follow the same path musically and lyrically but still it’s always enjoyable to hear new music from Eitzel. The new record is called Klamath and is available here. This song with it’s heavy bass and possibly kalimba and electronic sounds stands out a bit from the rest.

There’s Someone Waiting For Me [Download]

P.S. That’s it for me until after the Thanksgiving holiday. If anything comes up I’ll post to Twitter. Follow me there.

{mp3} Pacific Ocean Fire – “Hibernation Songs” (plus Grayson Capps)

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009

Every year or so I write about a couple random indie rock bands. I’m semi proud to say in the past it’s included bands like Blitzen Trapper, The Shaky Hands, The Embarrassing Fruits, etc., etc. I’ll write about them early in their career and then as they take off I’ll abandon them to bigger (better) music blogs. But I’ve actually got a pretty good track record at picking indie rock mini-superstars.

Anyway one such band is the English group Pacific Ocean Fire. I wrote about their debut record back when I did a “British Music Week” in 2006. The band has had a number of sobering experiences since and their new music reflects that. It’s more introspective and thoughtful and troubled than in the past. Also they have a wonderful female singer doing duets on a number of tracks including this one:

Coal Black Hearts [Download]


Grayson Capps has a new live record out on Hyena Records. I’ve linked to an mp3 of the New Orleans flavored track “Washboard Lisa” on my twitter feed. It’s a Twitter exclusive so head on over. Follow me here.

{MP3} Dave Rawlings Machine – “A Friend Of A Friend” (plus something new from Dawn Landes)

Monday, November 23rd, 2009

Dave Rawlings is known as an incredibly sympathetic and accomplished string player. The man can pluck, strum, twang or pick any number of traditional folk stringed instruments. On his debut solo record A Friend Of A Friend David Rawlings’ proves what many probably already expected and that is that he would have been very comfortable in that famous old pink house of the 60′s.

The lead-off track “Ruby” shapes up like an outtake from some lost hippy soundtrack. In fact the whole record has that earthy vibe. Still, the songs on A Friend OF A Friend are louder and punchier than anything you’d hear in his work with Gillian Welch and that dynamic is refreshing.

If you’re going to buy the record and I strongly suggest that you do (recession be damned!) buy it here from Village Records and support an indie retailer.

Ruby [Download]


Dawn Landes (who I love) has a new record coming out in the states in 2010. I have one song from it up on my twtitter feed. So go there and check it out. Then sign up to follow me for more Twitter exclusives.

Italian experimental americana from Guano Padano (a cover of Hank Williams’ classic “Ramblin Man”)

Friday, November 20th, 2009

This is a weird little post for Friday. Weird because I haven’t ever written about an Italian band before. And weird because the band in question plays an experimental brand of americana that has more in common with Ennio Morricone (in fact they signe dup his iconic whistler to appear on this record) than it does with Johnny Cash. But don’t worry these guys have been anointed by John Convertino and Joey Burns (Calexico) so rest assured you’re getting some pretty cool shit.

The band (a trio) is called Guano Padano and their self titled debut was just released in the US by Important Records and is available here. Here’s their rather out there cover of the Hank Williams’ classic “Ramblin Man”. Guest vocalist is the Italian singer of some renown and infamy – Bobby Solo.

Rambling Man (mp3 borrowed without permission from the Italian blog I’ve Always Wanted To Be a Gangster [Download]

Making of the record video set to “Ball Buster”

Jason Segel performing with The Swell Season (video)

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

I just had to post this video of Jason Segel playing with Swell Season since I name-dropped Jason Segal’s dracula puppet musical earlier this morning when reviewing Daniel Knox here.

Daniel Knox’s “Evryman For Himself”

Thursday, November 19th, 2009

The songs on Daniel Knox’s new, yet unreleased record, Evryman For Himself remind me a bit of the vampire-rock-opera-for-puppets that Jason Segel’s character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall was working on. Now I know that movie was a comedy and the music was intended to be funny yet I found it strangely compelling and so outside the mainstream that it was more refreshing than it was amusing. So the same can be said for the gothic cabaret stylings of Daniel Knox.

“I Make Enemies” is a fine example of what I’m talking about with it’s odd lyrics of “I make faces at the women and the kids all day long” but at the same time featuring John Zornesque sax solos and umpa lumpa tubas (?!).

Daniel Knox is appearing at Schubas on Wed. Nov 25 with Haley Bonar and Sin Ropas so you really can’t go that wrong.

Make Enemies

New record from The Pantones – “Inside the Sun’s Wild Flame”

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

The Pantones are a Lansing, Michigan based band that ably mixes americana with power pop. I’m up for checking out any band that styles its music after both the Byrds and REM. On the new record Inside The Sun’s Wild Flame they combine pedal steel and violin with trumpet and keyboard.

On the song “Circus Freaks” the first line “Paul used to call us circus freaks in our army jackets and vintage shoes, just part-time thesbians and quizbo geeks, positive we had something to prove” certainly brings me back to my own awkward teenage years.

If any of the above rings true to you than buy the new record at Elderly Instruments here.

Circus Freaks [Download]

Digger Barnes – “Time Has Come”

Monday, November 16th, 2009

Do you like Jim White, Tom Waits, Howe Gelb and Chuck Prophet? Yeah…me too. What is it about their collective sound that is so cool? Probably has a bit to do with the level of musical sloppiness they all share, the amount of reverb added to both the vocals and guitars, and mostly their unique view on life.

Add German singer songwriter Digger Barnes to that list above. When you heard “German” do you immediately think Hasselhoff, Lederhosen, and beer gardens? Sure Germany hasn’t had the greatest rock track record of late, but amusingly all the artists above are probably more influenced by the Bauhaus movement than they are any American musical trend be it sunny west coast rock to angular indie punk.

Digger Barnes is well known to Lucero fans as a member of the touring collective known as The Rivival Tour (w/Tim Barry (AVAIL), Ben Nichols (LUCERO), Tom Gabel (AGAINST ME), Austin Lucas, Frank Turner,and Jesse Malin). Seeing the company he keeps it’s no surprise that his debut record Time Has Come is a gothic americana masterpiece influenced by preachers, snakes, full moons, vampires and plenty of liquor.

You can pick up the LP here.

Everybody Run [Download]

New song from Kris Drever – “Mark The Hard Earth” (plus Caroline Herring’s new video)

Friday, November 13th, 2009

It’s been a couple of years since I wrote about Irish folk artist Kris Drever. As a result it’s almost time for his followup to his debut record Black Water. Kris is one of the new voices of Irish folk and has been nominated in the past as best male vocalist at the Irish Music Awards and also nominated by BBC Radio as best folk act. So his sophomore release is highly anticipated.

I’ve got the title track “Mark The Hard Earth” to share with you today. It’s a good example of traditional English folk accented with touches of more contemporary sounds.

Mark The Hard Earth [Download]


I don’t post a lot of videos on songs:Illinois. For one reason I think it’s kind of lazy – we’re not called mp3 blogs for nothing and I think each post should have an mp3. Secondly the artists I write about don’t often have proper videos. They’re barely able to get their records out into the market, so I think doing a video is an afterthought if at all. So I was glad to get the new video for the Caroline Herring song “Tales Of The Islander”. The video does justice to Caroline’s beautiful song as well as showing her beautifully serene and peaceful personality.

D. Charles Speer & The Helix – “Mason Dixon Crime” from Distillation (Three Lobed Recordings, Nov. 17)

Wednesday, November 11th, 2009

For awhile I thought Twitter was going to change the world. Now I see it for what it is – a discovery vehicle for anything and everything you might be interested in. The whole “change the world” thing is not gonna happen mainly because the kids don’t use it or even understand what the point of it is (they already have myspace, facebook, texting, et al). But still if you follow the “right” people you can use Twitter as your very own recommendation engine. I’ve done just that for this post on D. Charles Speer & The Helix’s new record Distillation and the leadoff track “Mason Dixon Crime”.

On the surface these guys may seem like conventional honky-tonk, but the guys behind D. Charles Speer are also the guys behind the NYC experimental band No Neck Blues Band. So while you can take them at face value and enjoy the twang, you also can delve a bit beneath the surface to find the little cross currents and minor revolutions bubbling up.

Buy the new EP here.

Mason Dixon Crime [Download]


Thanks in part to Twitter once again, the boys from Herohill and Slowcoustic have picked up on the new record by Cam Penner. Check out their posts here and here. In case you missed it last week here is Cam’s song “13″.

13 [Download]

Robert Church & The Holy Community (riyl Salim Nourallah – and if you know that name great on you!)

Tuesday, November 10th, 2009

Alright this same exact post went up today on Swedesplease. But due to a vacation and a certain amount of laziness I don’t have anything else ready to go for S:I today. Meanwhile I love this song and how it reminds me of one of my favorite artists – Salim Nourallah. Salim traffics in this same kind of wonderful diy rock. So without any further ado – Robert Chuch & The Holy Community by way of Sweden via a cassette only label in Michigan via a small blog based in Illinois.


A cassette only release from a micro indie label in Michigan of a stellar band from Sweden is the raison d’ĂȘtre of Swedesplease so it’s a post I couldn’t refuse. I’ve written about the lofi wunderkin Robert Chuch & The Holy Community before and I love how their music has evolved from that first post. “1/10″ is the first song on the 8 song cassette and it can be taken as both a straight forward pop song and as an experimental diy lofi masterpiece with it’s odd percussion, shifting cadence, and disconcerting found sounds.

Order the cassette here via Fox Pop.

1/10 [Download]

{MP3} Ike Reilly (w/Shooter Jennings) – “Hard Luck Stories” (Rock Ridge Music, Nov. 24)

Thursday, November 5th, 2009

Ike Reilly is a mid-western institution. He’s flirted with rock radio fame on WXRT in Chicago, he’s been critically acclaimed, as well as being bar band friendly and jock approved. His new record is out Nov. 24 and is titled Hard Luck Stories. It features a bunch of special guests including a high school chorus (Glee anyone?!), blues legend Barrel House Chuck and Johnny Hickman and David Lowery of Cracker. The song below features rebel country “star” Shooter Jennings and is a pretty cool duet on love, lust, sex and all things related to terror (kids) and drugs.

The War On The Terror and Drugs [Download]
(takes a minute to load)

Brown Bird – “The Devil Dancing” (Peapod Recordings, Nov. 10)

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

The Providence based band Brown Bird has been blowing up my Twitter feed thanks to Slowcoustic (posts here and here). The band plays a gloomy blend of americana and indie folk. David Lamb’s voice is deep and resonant, his songs are suitably dark and are laden with many intense images and appropriate instrumentation. The band sits somewhere between the slow dark folk of J. Tillman and the punk spirit of O’Death.

The band’s new record The Devil Dancing is out November 10th and can be preordered now through Peapod Recordings. Here are two songs from the new record that show the depth and range of Brown Bird’s music.

Muck And Mire [Download]


Danger and Dread [Download]

“Bottom Of The Bottle”

Joy Kills Sorrow – “Darkness Sure Becomes This City” (Signature Sounds, 2010)

Tuesday, November 3rd, 2009

Joy Kills Sorrow is a Boston based whose motto of “a modern American String band” encapsulates their sound pretty well. Darkness Sure Becomes This City is the followup to their debut record. It’ll be released in 2010 on Signature Sounds. From what I’ve heard of the band they don’t do that modern string band sound that is like a whirling dervish. Instead they use a lot of texture and space to create a sound that stradles bluegrass, folk and old timey.

Pretty sure this song will be on the upcoming record in some form or another. Looks like the next best time to see them perform live is Nov. 18 at The Lizard Lounge in Cambridge, MA. or Dec. 18 at The House of Yes in Brooklyn, NY. Enjoy and keep your eye out for this band in 2010.

Thinking Of You And Such [Download]

Doug & Telisha Williams – “Ghost of the Knoxville Girl”

Monday, November 2nd, 2009

Honky-tonk Friday came a little early this week with the (virtual) arrival of the new record by Martinsville, Virginia natives Doug & Telisha Williams. The record’s called Ghost of the Knoxville Girl and sits squarely in the intersection of blues, country and roots. Much like the recent record from Eilen Jewell “Knoxville Girl” isn’t content to stick with just one genre. There are Bruce Springsteenesque social consciousness raising rockers like “20 Point 2″ and eerie murder/ghost ballads like the title track.

For honky-tonk fans it’s the first track that shines. I just love Telisha’s voice on “Kitchen Light” and the song features tasty pedal steel and just the right combination of bass and drums.

You can buy the new record here via Cd Baby.

Kitchen Light [Download]