Archive for March, 2010

Mark Erelli – “Little Vigils” (Signature Sounds, April)

Friday, March 26th, 2010

This song from Mark Erelli’s new record Little Vigils is not really representative of the sound or the style of the record. But that’s the case with just about every song on the record. There’s no one sound or style that can sum up Little Vigils. On Little Vigils Mark is content to use different textures and tempos to convey different emotions on a wide range of songs. Whether it’s the delicate twang of “August” or the deathly folk sounds of “Hemlock Grove” this record can simply not be pinned down. Mark Erelli has made a record that is suitable for multiple listens and new discoveries (and new favorite songs) on each listen.

At the moment I am loving the nostalgic rock `n’ roll of “Basement Days” but check in with me tomorrow and I might be on to the anti-religion screed of “Kingdom Come” or perhaps it’ll be the bluegrassy goodness of “Mother of Mysteries”. Either way for now I’m loving the song “Basement Days” which is a look back at the teenage “lets-form-a-band” eagerness and naivety that is usually lost by ones early twenties. The beauty of the song is how it pegs that feeling of awe and wonderment that is usually left behind as we grow up. Ironically the song with it’s chorus of “can’t get back to those basement days” is not completely autobiographical as Mark Erelli has never lost that sense of wonder and the idea that the power of a song is unequaled. I highly recommend this record.

Buy Little Vigils here or here now.

Basement Days [Download]

P.S. I’m off for my family’s spring break so I won’t be posting for a week or so. See you soon…

Jeff Ellis – “The Forgetting Place”

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

The other day I traded coverage of Jonathan Burks for coverage of Jeff Ellis. It was a simple thing to set up with the music blog Muruch. See, we both wanted to share the music of our favorite artists with more people than we could reach by ourselves. So she did a post on Songs:Illinois favorite Jonathan Burks and I promised a post on her new fave Jeff Ellis. The need to reach more people and spread our love of these artists is the reason we started music blogs in the first place. This is a common refrain among even the most popular music blogs and the reason music blog collaboration sites like MBV, Star Maker Machine, and now the new Strangers In Stereo have sprung up.

Muruch has done an excellent review of the new record from Jeff – The Forgetting Place. Read it here to get a better idea of the many different sounds of this accomplished singer-songwriter. Buy Jeff Ellis’ new record here.

The Forgetting Place [Download]

Slim Cessna’s Auto Club – “Buried Behind The Barn” (Alternative Tentacles, March)

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

I should have a slew of posts about Slim Cessna’s Auto Club in the archives of Songs:Illinois. But somehow I have failed to write about this band from Denver. Their mix of folk, country, bluegrass and punk is a perfect fit for Songs:Illinois. The band’s new record is called Buried Behind The Barn and it’s an 8 song CD of lost songs that appeared briefly in 2004 as a limited edition cdr.

Buy Buried Behind The Barn here.

Jackson [Download]


Monday, March 22nd, 2010

SXSW Wrapup:

1. Cold. Yes, Texas was frigid the last couple of days.
2. Good food. Pizza, migas (for breakfast from Gueros) and cupcakes from that trailer on Congress.
3. Music (Carolina Chocolate Drops, Whitey Morgan and the 78′s, Skybox, Ha Ha Tonka, Waco Brothers, and all my favorite singer/songwriters (Danny Schmidt, Matt The Electrician, Adam Carroll, Lee Barber etc etc etc)

One of the unexpected highlights of SXSW for me was band opening up for John Hiatt at the New West party. Ponderosa is newly signed to New West Records and their brand of Stonesy southern rock played well in the hot Texas sun of Day 1 of the fest. The band has a 10 song (!) EP out called Moonlight Revival. Some of these songs may appear on the band’s debut. I like these two below. “Old Gin Road” shows the band’s soul rock side while “Little Runaway” slows it down a bit for a more contemplative, slow burn sound.

Old Gin Road [Download]

Little Runaway [Download]

Paul Curreri – “California” (Tin Angel Records, April 27)

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

I’m a complete sucker for bands, songs, or just about anything from/about California. So Paul Curreri’s new song/album “California” was a no brainer. First of all I like Paul Curreri and second of all I like his wife Devon Sproule. Paul’s music is unpredictable – it can be folksy and charming at times and then loud and rambunctious. He’s a talented musician, producer and songwriter.

California is out now in the US and can be picked up here through CD Baby.

California [Download]

“California” video by Devon

P.S. Devon Sproule also has a new record coming out. Below is a new song from that as well. Catch Devon Sproule in Austin for SXSW here:

Mar 18 2010 1:00P SXSW – Amelia’s RetroVogue & Relics Austin, Texas
Mar 18 2010 7:30P SXSW – Flipnotics Austin, Texas
Mar 19 2010 8:00P Uncle Calvin’s Coffeehouse Dallas, Texas
Mar 20 2010 4:00P SXSW – Once Over Coffee Austin, Texas
Mar 21 2010 1:00P SXSW – Ghost Room Austin, Texas
Mar 21 2010 4:30P SXSW – GreenHouse Concerts (RSVP)

Good To Get Out [Download]

SXSW Preview – Adam Carroll – “Live At Flipnotics”

Tuesday, March 16th, 2010

I’ve written a bunch about Adam Carroll. I’ve covered his solo records (here), a duo record with Michael O’Connor (here) and now a live from Flipnotics Cafe record.

To quote myself here’s what I originally wrote about the song “Oklahoma Gypsy Shuffler” when it first appeared on Adam’s record Old Town Rock N Roll:

The song is about a loner who roams the land getting into and out of trouble, both mortal and of the soul. With lines like “drivin’ down the west coast highway”, “songs out the window was all he had to lose” (can’t you just picture the songs floating out the window?), “cuttin’ heads on the chitlin’ circuit”, and “snorting cocaine off a buck knife” Oklahoma Gypsy Shuffler is as timeless as the Oklahoma dust bowl and the howling winds of West Texas.

I think that pretty much nails it, except to say that this live record features production and playing by Scrappy Jud Newcomb and along with the older songs Adam throws in a couple of new ones. If you are an Adam Carroll completist like myself you’ll want to buy this one (here). Catch Adam Carroll at Flipnotics on 9pm on Friday night and then stay for friend and Austin legend Beaver Nelson (or go a little early to see Scrappy Jud Newcomb).

Oklahoma Gypsy Shuffle [Download]

Adam Carroll with Scrappy Jud Newcomb

Roy Davis – “We Are A Lightning Bolt”

Monday, March 15th, 2010

I know I should be doing a SXSW preview, but this new music from Roy Davis is a pressing matter and it couldn’t wait. Roy Davis’ new record is called We Are A Lightning Bolt and came out back in January. I wrote about Roy Davis back in 2008 and thankfully Roy remembered and followed up with me. He sent three songs from the new record ranging from experimental folk to full on rave up Americana. It’s the song “Stranger’s House” with its chorus of “I’m not going to fight you in a stranger’s house” that immediately had me singing along though.

Stranger’s House [Download]

P.S. Don’t worry I’ll be back tomorrow with more SXSW pointers including exclusive new music from someone you should definitely check out while in Austin.

Lucas Dawson – “Another Way To Say Goodbye”

Friday, March 12th, 2010

It’s so rare that I get to do a post that fits on both Songs:Illinois and Swedesplease. I like to do them too because I can expose a worthy artist to both groups of readers. Lucas Dawson is certainly worthy. He is a native Australian who moved to Europe, then London, and now resides in Stockholm (thus the Swedesplease connection). His new CD Another Way To Say Goodbye is a slow burn of a record that hashes and rehashes a recent breakup. It’s bitter at times and features J Tilman-esque vocals and instrumentation with occasional blasts of electric guitar. That is to say Lucas has a mellow delivery that is contradicted at times with searing music. This combination helps portray his feelings of pain, hurt, disgust, resignation, and anger. To give you an idea of the theme of the record here are just a few of the song titles: “I’m So Miserable Without You”, “Ain’t Life Cruel”, “I Hate You”, “What Am I To Do”, and “We Were Too Young”.

“Four Catastrophic Years” is the first track on the album and it’s a good example of what I’m talking about. Easiest way to buy the record is here through CD Baby or through Bandcamp here.

Four Catastrophic Years [Download]

**SXSW Preview** Rebecca Loebe – “Mystery Prize”

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

I used to be a pretty serious Rilo Kiley fan. But I really had no use for the actual band. I guess I was really a just Jenny Lewis fan at heart. I feel like Rebecca Loebe’s new record has some of the best parts of Jenny Lewis mixed with the whimsical folk music I’m drawn to. Rebecca Loebe has a new record that just came out called Mystery Prize. It’s already charting on Americana charts which may not be the best place for her music, but really what else is there for someone with a guitar and a song to sing.

You can buy the new record here. I’ve been listening to it on repeat for the last couple of days and really suggest that you do.

Rebecca plays three shows next week at SXSW. Here’s her schedule (not to sway you or anything but I’ll be at the first one at Flipnotics – also appearing – Danny Schmidt, Matt The Electician, Devon Sproule, and Raina Rose):

Thursday, March 18, 2010, 6pm, Trevor & Dru’s Strange Brew SXSW Songwriter Explosion @ Flipnotics Coffeespace

Friday, March 19, 2010, 4pm, Red Gorilla Music Fest! @ Cuba Libre – Main Stage

Saturday, March 20, 2010 Acoustic Afternoon at Once Over Coffee Bar @ Once Over

Sunday, March 21, 2010 Freddy Powers SXSW Pickin’ Party 2010 @ La Hacienda RV Resort

Mystery Prize [Download]

Raina Rose – “When May Came” (February, Constant Clip Records)

Wednesday, March 10th, 2010

This morning I almost wrote about new records by Matt Harlan and Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers but in both cases other blogs beat me to the punch and did a good job sharing their music (here and here). So instead I will mention the new record by Raina Rose called When May Came.

When May Came was recorded in Raina’s living room mostly live and mixed by singer songwriter Jonathan Byrd. It has the immediacy of a record recorded live as well as the energy. “Sun Comes Back” is a perfect song for this rainy Chicago morning despite being a tale of a broken relationship. Any song with sun in the title picks me up just a little and I know the actual sun can’t be far from returning.

Raina Rose’s new record is out now on a little record label called Constant Clip Records created by singer-songerwriter and Songs:Illinois favorite Elam Blackman. Raina also has some shows coming up with the great Aj Roach so check her schedule for more info. You can purchase When May Came here.

Sun Comes Back [Download]

**SXSW Preview** Tom Freund

Tuesday, March 9th, 2010

In some quarters Tom Freund is better known for the company he keeps than for the solo music he makes. Tom has been a friend and bandmate of Ben Harper for the last 2 decades. He is also a great stand up bass player and you can hear him playing with Brett Dennen, Graham Parker, and even Mandy Moore. However I’ve always loved his breezy California folk(rock).

He has a new EP called Fit To Screen and multiple appearances at SXSW. The song below is from that new EP. Catch his official showcase on Thursday, March 18 at 1:00 AM St David’s Bethell Hall.

Ghost In This Town [Download]

Bonus tracks:

Copper Moon [Download]
(Live with Ben Harper)
Can’t Cry Hard Enough [Download]
(as featured in “One Tree Hill”)
North American Long Weekend [Download]

**SXSW Preview** Serious Sam Barrett

Monday, March 8th, 2010

I’m not going to lie to you. I’d never really heard of Sam Barrett. Saw the name around a bit lately though. I guess I could read his bio and then relay it to you but really you could just do that for yourself.

While this song is fairly rough, I think it’s probably a good representation of the combination of acoustic blues, American folk, and traditional British folk that characterizes Sam’s sound. His delivery is much like that of The Tallest Man On Earth. I think I’d venture out to see Serious Sam Barrett.

Catch Serious Sam Barrett’s official showcase on Wednesday, March 17 at 8:20 PM at The Velveeta Room otherwise I imagine you’ll find him at the pub.

Lay a White Rose [Download]

“Lay A White Rose” video

Serious Sam Barrett – Lay A White Rose from James Rhodes on Vimeo.

**SXSW Preview** (and Honky-Tonk Friday!) with Whitey Morgan and the 78′s

Friday, March 5th, 2010

Not sure what the gossip is over at Bloodshot Records. But if I had to guess from the lineup of their SXSW parties I’d say that there may be some talk of signing Whitey Morgan and the 78′s. Whitey Morgan is the only non-Bloodshot group playing both of their parties at SXSW. I for one say go for it! Despite their excellent roster and being synonymous with insurgent country I think a band that combines the best of classic honky-tonk with rebel rock would be a welcome addition.

The Bloodshot Records official showcase is Saturday, March 20 at 10:00 PM Red Eyed Fly, but also check out the Bloodshot party the day before at the Yard Dog Gallery (free a to get in and free beer).

Another Round [Download]

**SXSW Preview** David Francey

Thursday, March 4th, 2010

Here’s something simple and beautiful from Canadian (by way of Scotland) folk singer David Francey. I’ve loved everything I’ve heard from David so I look forward to hearing more of his music on Saturday, March 20 at 10:00 PM at Stephen F’s Bar.

The Waking Hour [Download]

Bonus tracks:

Ashtubula [Download]

Ballad of Browser Macrae [Download]

“Skating Rink” video

**SXSW Preview** Drew Smith’s Lonely Choir

Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

I don’t know if you realized it but these are not your typical, obvious SXSW reccommendations. You could go to a hundred other sites for safe, easy choices of who to see at SXSW. These however are a bit out of the way.

Drew Smith’s Lonely Choir is an Austin based band that doesn’t sound anything like this Texas city. His hyper, catchy, hook laden pop is sugary on the surface but as you’ll hear in “Bank Ain’t Got The Loan” it’s got substance in its center. This is a new song that may show up on one of two records planned for 2010. Check him out late night at Momo’s on Saturday, March 20 at 1:00 AM.

Bank Ain’t Got The Loan [Download]

Overmountain Men – “Glorious Day”

Monday, March 1st, 2010

What little press there has been about the americana band The Overmoutain Men has focused on the fact that Avett Brothers member Bob Crawford is a part of this group. The theme of the record is loosely based on a number of historical figures and stories. However for my money it’s really the presence of David Childers that excites me. While his music is hard to find and often hard to pin down, it is always full of emotion whether it’s his solo records or his work with the band David Childers and The Modern Day Don Juans. He’s a notorious character and a very talented singer songwriter and the unofficial poet laureate of North Carolina. I’m not sure if all of these historical based songs suit his talent but a number certainly do.

If you are interested in more about David Childers check out his back catalog and I encourage you to watch the 37 minute video below. It would do more than any university music appreciation class to explain roots music and its appeal. Get the debut record “Glorious Day” from the band here.

All I Ever Knew [Download]

David Childers’ interview/performance/lecture