Archive for February, 2010

Honky-Tonk Friday – The Texas Sapphires

Friday, February 26th, 2010

What is it about drinking and country music. If songs aren’t about trucking than they are invariably about drinking. And more importantly why do I like these songs? Me, a guy who has to stop drinking soon after the first one. I wrote about the Austin based band (duo) The Texas Sapphires back in 2006 here. There new record is called As He Wanders… and is out on April 6. You can order it here now.

“How Did I Get So Sloppy Drunk When I Was Drinking Neat” is the drunkenest song on the new record. Enjoy and treat this as a cautionary tale for the weekend ahead.

How Did I Get So Sloppy Drunk When I Was Drinking Neat [Download]

**SXSW Preview** Isaac Russell

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

I made a pact with myself about 4 years ago never to post major label schlock on Songs:Illinois. One reason for my boycott is that on the whole major label releases equate to overproduced, lowest common denominator crap. The second reason is that the majors aren’t thrilled with music blog coverage and I’m not that keen on having my site summarily deleted.

But I couldn’t resist with this new record by Isaac Russell due out in 2010 on Columbia/Sony. Isaac is a Provo, Ut based singer songwriter who has recently been on tour with Pete Yorn, as well as recording with Dennis Herring (The Hives, Elvis Costello, Counting Crows). I’m not sure how he got all these big breaks, but I’m willing to guess at least part of the reason is his hard work, his songwriting ability, and his velvety vocals. “House of Cards” is from that forthcoming, as yet untitled, major label debut. Catch Isaac Russell in Austin at SXSW on Wednesday, March 17 at 8:00 PM at the The Ale House.

House of Cards [Download]

Nell Robinson – “Loango”

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Mostly we (bloggers) are writing about the known. Usually we’re writing about a band or artist that we are familiar with in some way or another. Sometimes the person has been in another band that we’re familair with or the producer is a known commodity or there are guest stars we can sink our proverbial teeth into. We rarely write blind. Today is one of those days. Somehow in my travels around the web I encountered the angelic voice of Nell Robinson and her new record Loango.

“Butch” is one of the few Nell Robinson originals on the new record and it fits in so well alongside the beautiful cover renditions that it’s as if it’s a classic itself. Nell is planning a tour this summer so sign up for her emails here so you can be alerted to her upcoming performances. The new record is for sale at Nell’s website here or through CD Baby here.

Butch [Download]

The Ravenna Colt – “Slight Spell” (Removador Recordings, Feb. 16)

Tuesday, February 23rd, 2010

Day 2 of this throwback Californian cosmic americana thing (Whispering Pines led off the series yesterday) is represented by the band The Ravenna Colt. The back story is that this is the band from ex My Morning Jacket member Johnny Quaid. He left the band in 2004 and moved west to California. As a result the band’s new record Slight Spell has a bit of that California vibe.

Don’t be a punk buy it here now.

Prepare To Be Delivered [Download]

LA Based Hippie/Stoner/70′s Rawk from Whispering Pines – “Family Tree” (February, self-released)

Monday, February 22nd, 2010

Hold on to your hats or your bootstraps or something. We’ll be having an interruption of regular blogging service and particularly SXSW coverage to bring you two days of Band/Dead/Stones inspired hippie rock. First up is Whispering Pines. And it’s not like you haven’t heard it before. But you can always expand the genre. And in this case this LA based band adds boozy blues harmonica, Muscle Shoals soul, and West coast stoner rock to their take on Band-era rock `n’ roll.

At times the band’s new record Family Tree is derivative and you could probably get close to the same experience from slapping on Big Pink. But I like these guys and this debut record is a keeper. Pick it up through CD Baby here.

Miss Lucy’s Red Light [Download]

**SXSW Preview** The Coal Porters (featuring Sid Griffin from The Long Ryders)

Friday, February 19th, 2010

The Coal Porters are an odd little band based out of London. They are led by American, and Long Ryders founder, Sid Griffin. They recorded their new record Durango over two weeks they spent in that Colorodao town. They will be returning to the states to bring their brand of bluegrass to SXSW on Wednesday, March 17 at 11:00 PM at Opal Divine’s Freehouse. But they’ll be playing a bunch of other shows in Austin:

Mar 17 2010 3:00P SXSW: The Independent Austin, Texas
Mar 17 2010 11:00P SXSW Official Showcase: Opal Divines Freehouse Austin, Texas
Mar 18 2010 8:00P SXSW: Waterloo Records Austin, Texas
Mar 19 2010 3:00P SXSW: Waterloo Bicycles Austin, Texas
Mar 20 2010 1:00P SXSW: Flipnotics Austin, Texas
Mar 20 2010 3:45P SXSW: Yard Dog Austin, Texas
Mar 20 2010 5:30P SXSW: Antones Records Austin, Texas

Here’s a new song from their 2010 release Durango. Buy it here.

No More Chains [Download]
(the song takes a few extra seconds to load)

**SXSW Preview** Steve Poltz

Thursday, February 18th, 2010

This is the start of a bunch of SXSW Preview posts that I will do over the next month. The bulk of these are going to be of official showcases but you’ll hopefully get a chance to see more of these bands around town at the day parties. I’ll also be talking about some of these unofficial day parties in the next few weeks.

I’ve written about Steve Poltz so many times that I am out of pithy openers. The guy’s pretty great. Loved him with The Rugburns. Dude’s basically responsible for Jewel. And now as a solo act he is writing clever song after clever hummable song. The new record is produced by Joel Plaskett which is reason enough for me to be excited. “Dreamhouse” is the title track. It’s available here.

Catch Steve Poltz Thursday, March 18 at 12:00 AM at the 18th Floor at Hilton Garden Inn.

Dreamhouse [Download]

Austin Collins – “Wrong Control” (March 2)

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

You had me at Will Johnson. Will Johnson from Centromatic has produced the new record from Houston native Austin Collins. Wrong Control comes out March 2 and from the songs I’ve heard and from the video below the record is full of buzzing guitars and pulsing drums. On record Austin Collins has a full band sound that brings me back to the robust sounds of early Replacements and Uncle Tupelo. High praise indeed but I really like these songs and the wall of sound that encompasses them.

Buy Wrong Control here.

Conventional Lust [Download]

“Island” video

Scuzzy blues from Catl. – “With the Lord for Cowards You Will Find No Place” (Feb. 2)

Friday, February 12th, 2010

There were a couple of factors that drew me to the music of Catl. First was the name of their new record – With the Lord for Cowards You Will Find No Place. Second was their groovy cover art. And third was the fact that their brand of blues was described as dirty and scuzzy and punk. So yeah this isn’t the polished sound of blues coming out of Chicago or LA. It’s more akin to the delta sound except infused with rock and punk.

You can get this release from their label Electro Fi here or here through Emusic.

Church On Time [Download]

Hillbilly country punk from Big Smith – “Roots, Shoots & Wings”

Thursday, February 11th, 2010

The band Big Smith from Springfield, Mo. had some nice high resolution pictures available for the press to use. But it’s this shot that gives you that “a picture is worth a thousand words” take on the band and it’s working class roots. I don’t know if Big Smith is one of these guys in the picture (they’re all pretty big as far as I can tell!) or if it’s just used for the collective. They are rather a large band at 6 members.

I’ve been a fan of the band in the past and always like their stuff. Word is the new record rocks a little harder than previous releases. On the song “Brady And Duncan” you can hear just that heightened level of urgency. The new record is called Roots, Shoots and Wings and is available here through MayApple Records. It’s a good `un.

Catch the band at their record release party at Off Broadway in St. Louis on Feb 20.

Brady And Duncan [Download]

{MP3} Sean Hayes – “Run Wolves Run” (March 16)

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

I like Josh Rouse, Josh Ritter, Ron Sexsmith, Brett Dennen, Mason Jennings, Tom Brousseau, etc., etc., etc. Something about this group of guys with their unusual delivery, solid songwriting, and indie folk tendencies appeals to me. Sean Hayes deserves to be in that group, but I’m not sure if he is yet. His new record is due out March 16 and is titled Run Wolves Run. Perhaps with this release he’ll enter this upper stratosphere of singer-songwriters.

He does some unusual things with both of these songs off of Run Wolves Run. On “Garden” he uses an odd assortment of percussion, bass and guitar (including a slow searing electric lead). On “When We Fall In” the instrumentation is simple enough but this time he adds a slightly unusual call and response section. Point is Sean Hayes is willing to take risks with his music. Take a risk yourself and pre-order the new record here (there’s a cool option to get the vinyl, a download code and a free ep).

Garden [Download]

When We Fall In [Download]

Video for “Garden”

Sarah Jaffe’s “Suburban Nature”

Tuesday, February 9th, 2010

I had the misfortune of listening to a couple female singer-songwriters with records out today. I won’t name names. But really? Is that really the best you can do? Does your music have any real passion despite being technically proficient? Luckily my pallet was cleansed when I heard a new song from Sarah Jaffe’s upcoming record Suburban Nature. This is her debut record and it will be out soon on Kirtland Records (Bob Schneider’s label).

While this is a solo release the song “Clementine” has a full band sound with cello, fervent drums, and Sarah’s impassioned vocals. It shares more in common with the best of Rilo Kiley than it does with some of the female singer-songwriter schlock that gets pushed to AAA radio.

Sarah just returned from tour opening up for Midlake. I hope she gets the attention she deserves with this spring release.

Clementine [Download]

Bonus tracks from her 2008 ep Even Born Again

Even Born Again [Download]

Two Intangibles Can’t Be Had [Download]

Texas Tornados

Monday, February 8th, 2010

A couple of the good twangy websites have had news of a new Texas Tornados record. It’s due out in in March on Bismeaux Records and is called Esta Bueno. But no one shared an mp3 from the new record yet. Until now that is; here’s “Whose To Blame Senorita”.

Who’s to Blame Senorita [Download]

Pokey LaFarge and the South City Three – “Riverboat Soul”

Thursday, February 4th, 2010

I’m a big Pokey LaFarge fan. I declared his last record one of the best of the year, I hosted a house concert for him in Chicago and I have sung his praises as much as possible. He’d kind of be a lovable loser character if it weren’t for the fact that he tours relentlessly (and successfully). His songs often poke fun at himself and the situations he finds himself in. There’s a fair amount of lovers’ angst and just downright bluesy songs. But Pokey’s presentation, both lyrically and musically, usually finds at least a shred of humor and life in even the most difficult situations.

Pokey’s new record is with a group called the South City Three and is titled Riverboat Soul. You’ll be missing out on some of the best mix of roots, bluegrass, folk and old timey music from this (or any) side of the Mississippi if you pass on this one. Buy it here from Amazon or here for a little cheaper from Free Dirt Records.

La La Blues [Download]

Walter Spencer – “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap” from “A Sunday Night Roast”

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2010

I love my fake music blogging job. Writing about such great music day in and day out is inspirational. It really is.

I somehow stumbled upon Walter Spencer and his new record A Sunday Night Roast a couple of weeks ago. It took some work to get this up on the site so I hope you like it.

Walter’s from LA, but his music would be more comfortable in the Appalachian Mountains, or Baton Rouge, or Austin. He plays an odd mix of americana, bluegrass, honky tonk and hippy folk. If this wasn’t recorded in a shack up in the mountains it certainly should have been. I’m not sure of the story behind “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap” but this tale of contraband soap that gets an Orange County man arrested is pretty classic (esp with lyrics like: “was it crack cocaine or heroin or a little bitty bag of dope? nope he had a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap” and “it makes my balls tingle, but it don’t get me high”).

Buy A Sunday Night Roast here through Cd Baby.

Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap [Download]

Sufjan’s Dead! Long Live Sufjan! (in the form of Keaton Henson)

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

I don’t know if this kid from England just emailed me or if he did a huge blast to every music blogger in town. For selfish reasons I hope I’m the only one, but for his sake I hope he at least hit up all the A-list music blogs. How does a kid like this just appear fully formed, with videos, songs, artwork and beautiful songs (did I say that yet)?

I’m going to give partial credit to the British school system and the rest to endless nights listening to Nick Drake, Felt, Bon Iver, and probably a fair amount of The Smiths.

Here’s Keaton Henson’s humble bio (check out his art as well here):

The songs i’ve put online are 7 of over 100 written since i was in pink converse and wearing headphones at the dinner table (about 16).

The fact that people can hear them is terrifying.

The fact that the people they’re about might hear them is mortifying.

I cannot play stairway to heaven. I struggle with bar chords. My songs are unashamed self indulgence and my only defense is that i didn’t think they would ever be heard.

They were recorded in my bedroom mainly, and occasionally in friendly studios, with help when needed from talented friends and family members.

I started charging for illustration in order to afford studio time. And got carried away.

My plan in the coming months is to release a limited edition cd in case anyone wants one, which would be madness.

I hereby promise not to blog about meals i’ve eaten, cool things ive bought or hilarious videos containing cats. I’m not entirely sure what that leaves to blog about but we’ll have to see.

i think that’ll do for now.

This is the song that struck me first and heaviest (although “Nests” below is steadily gaining ground with every listen).

Sarah Minor [Download]


“Sarah Minor”

‘Sarah Minor’ from Keaton Henson on Vimeo.


‘Nests’ from Keaton Henson on Vimeo.

Will Kimbrough – “Wings” (Feb. 23)

Tuesday, February 2nd, 2010

Will Kimbrough is known as a modern day musical renaissance man. He has produced, played with, written songs with and performed with all the A-listers in the americana scene and a few that are outside of that scene (namely his work with Jimmy Buffet). I’ve been into his stuff since he first surfaced as leader of Will and the Bushmen. I love his work with the band Daddy and his solo records have been consistently great.

He’s back in 2010 with a new record called Wings. There are a couple references to angels and miracles on the record. But this one that describes the three women in his life as three angels is especially nice. Pre-order Wings now through Village Records here.

Three Angels [Download]

New music from The Legendary Shack Shakers – “Agridustrial” (March 23)

Monday, February 1st, 2010

If you’re a guy reading this I encourage you not to play this song for your significant other/spouse. If she is anything like mine this will be a complete turnoff. The Legendary Shack Shakers are not afraid to make a ruckus. Their brand of punk infused hillbilly blues has even been taken up a notch on this new record with the presence of a new guitarist and percussion provided by a blacksmith’s forge.

The new album is called Agridustrial and is purported to be fairly political but I think a lot of that may well get lost in the mix and in the band’s rowdy live performances. Here’s “Sin Eater” from the new record.

Sin Eater [Download]