Archive for April, 2010

Tift Merritt – “See You On The Moon” (Fantasy, June 1)

Friday, April 30th, 2010

It’s been a couple of years since I wrote about Tift Merritt. And it’s been a couple years since her great record Another Country. I’m sure things have changed in her life, and there is a new producer (Tucker Martine) and apparently the world is spinning of its axes. Still not much has changed with Tift’s beautiful voice, soulful delivery, painfully acute songwriting and her general musical direction. That’s a good thing.

The new record See You On The Moon is out on June 1. Until that date Tift Merritt is streaming one new song per week on her website. You can also pre-order the record from her here.

All The Reasons We Don’t Have To Fight [Download]

P.S. Usually I feel like I’ve got to conjole and twist arms to get my point across or to convince you the reader that the artist of the day is worth your time. But come on…this is Tift Merritt we’re talking about. Pre-order the new record already. You know you want to!

Lincoln Durham

Wednesday, April 28th, 2010

Alright just a quickie post about an Austin singer-songwriter named Lincoln Durham. Lincoln’s got a hard-edged country blues sound going on. He just released an EP in advance of his debut record. This song, “Living Hard” will be on the new record and is produced by friend/fan Ray Wylie Hubbard. In fact Ray said it best when he said:

“If you dig Son House and Townes Van Zandt…Lincoln Durham is your man. Don’t come no cooler.”

The EP is available here.

Living This Hard [Download]

“Mud Puddles”

New (final) EP from Bark Hide and Horn

Tuesday, April 27th, 2010

After I went through and deleted each and every email from the publicists, promoters, and myriad labels that pester me daily I was left with only one thing to post. That is the new ep from the band Bark Hide And Horn. I wrote about the band first here back in 2006. Now don’t rush out and try to become the band’s biggest fan because with the announcement of the new EP they also announced their demise.

Still they went out with a blaze of glory. The new ep is more dynamic and just plain louder than their debut. The song cycle deals with “cannibals and carcasses, scavengers and shape-shifters, time-travellers and time-bombs.” The sound is rough around the edges in all the right places.

The song “Fawn” is a good example as it kicks off with a massive swath of organ and drums only to quickly shift gears to a lilting voice singing about songbirds that gradually shifts again.

You can buy the new EP Animal Minds here via CDBaby.

Fawn [Download]

Bonus tracks from the band’s debut lp

Treasure of the Everglades [Download]

Grandfather [Download]

Sam Corbin Redux – Revisiting “Michigan’s Waltz”

Monday, April 26th, 2010

Last week’s string of posts revisiting great records reviewed recently on Songs:Illinois was fun and I hope you liked it but I didn’t have room to write about Sam Corbin’s 2009 release Michigan Waltz. So this is the last in a series of posts encouraging you to seek out great records from Corin Raymond, Chris Coole, Matt The Electrician, and Adam Carrol with Michael O’Connor.

I know you probably think the state of Michigan is all used up as a subject for a record since Sufjan Stevens already covered this ground. And while I am a fan of both his Illinois record and his Michigan record, I think any subject, if addressed in a personal way, can have more than just one go around.

Buy Michigan Waltz here via Elderly Instruments. Sam Corbin and a bunch of other notable Michigan songwriters are going to play Double Door in Chicago on May 17.

Lansing [Download]


Michigan’s Waltz [Download]

“Michigan’s Waltz” at the Trinity House Theater

Adam Carroll and Michael O’Connor Redux – Revisiting the Texas Record of the Year

Thursday, April 22nd, 2010

I went a little overboard in my first post about this record back in January. But now with hindsight and many more listens I agree with everything I said in that post. Hard Times by Adam Carroll and Michael O’Connor is a quintessential Texas americana record. It stands up there with the best of the bunch. There are equal parts humor, sadness, and resignation on this record which deals with hard times in the Gulf Coast region of Texas.

“Billy Gibbons Beard” is one of the funny yet finely wrought songs on this record. Here’s a couple of lyrics”

“In the gulf coast honky-tonks they sweep the eyeballs off the floor”

“I wound on the bottle just like mom and dad had feared with a bar tab twice as long as Billy Gibbons beard”

“There’s a dusty Heisman Trophy sitting on the shelf. There’s a long gone run down hero in there talking to himself about the days he used to run that ball. There’s a band playing in the bar called Billy Gibbons Beard”

Buy the whole record here via Lone Star Music.

Billy Gibbons Beard [Download]


Bernadine [Download]

Adam and Michael performing Adam’s song “Errol’s Song”

Matt The Electrician Redux – Rivisiting “Animal Boy”

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

I’m liking this idea of revisiting unheralded but important records I have reviewed in the recent past (see earlier posts on Corin Raymond and Chris Coole). Today’s update is about everyone’s favorite Austin singer songwriter Matt The Electrician. I’ve been a fan of Matt’s for awhile and I knew he was a big deal in Austin, but had no idea of his success in that city so full of musicians and singers. At SXSW I was flipping through the Austin Chronicle’s music issue with their annual Austin Music Awards and Matt The Electrician was all over that thing. He was nominated for multiple awards; favorite artist, best live show, etc., etc., etc.

Matt’s new record Animal Boy was prominently displayed in boutiques, organic groceries, and of course at the record stores that litter that town. I wrote about the new record here and his song “For Angela”. Here’s one more track from that record. “College” has that straight to tape sound I love so much and the song is clever, bitter and funny in equal parts.

If you want your own copy of this record get it now at CDBaby here. See him live each and every Monday night at the world famous Saxon Pub in Austin.

College [Download]

“For Angela” video via Music Fog

Chris Coole Redux – “Old Dog” (riyl Old Yeller)

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

All the artists profiled this week have been reviewed on Songs:Illinois in the recent past. But I didn’t want those original posts to be one and done deals. These are just a few of the singer songwriters which I’ve discovered through writing Songs:Illinois that I won’t quickly forget. So I got approval from each one to post an additional song in the hopes hearing them will make a few more converts.

Chris Coole is a Toronto based artist who excels at banjo and just recently released his debut record Old Dog. When I first wrote about Chris’ record I linked to his song “Hell To Pay”, but I mentioned my love of the title track “Old Dog”. Well here’s that track (for all you dog lovers).

As I told Chris when I explained this post to him, I recently loaned out his record to a friend and am now practically in withdrawal since it’s gone “missing”. You can pick up your own copy here through Elderly Instruments.

Old Dog [Download]

Corin Raymond Redux

Monday, April 19th, 2010

I’ve been trying to convince and conjole people in the industry that Corin Raymond’s song “There Will Always Be A Small Time” is the best song about the travails of country music since “Crazy Heart” by Ryan Bingham. It’s the title track from his summer 2009 release. Since I love that song so much I revisited this gorgeous record and want to share one more song from it with you.

“Blue Mermaid Dress” again deals a little with the power of song and the creative process. It’s a topic I’ve loved in song since I first heard Greg Brown’s “Poet Game”.

These two songs are just a drop in the bucket when it comes to this record when heard in its entirety. Buy the whole thing here at CD Baby and keep that Record Store Day 2010 glow alive in your heart by supporting this completely independent artist..

Blue Mermaid Dress [Download]


There Will Always Be A Small Time [Download]

“Blue Mermaid Dress” perfromed at the Tunesmiths Room – Memphis Folk Alliance

{MP3} New song from Built Like Alaska from the comp “Portraits: 32 Singers, 32 Songs”

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Why is it that it’s your favorite bands that are always the least prolific, yet bands like Nickelback can crank out crappy record after crappy record year in and year out?

A new song from the band Built Like Alaska got me thinking this very question. Variations on this question include: why do the best bands inevitably wind up on labels that promptly go out of business, why are the best bands so much less well known than dance music remix crap, and why do the best bands always split up?

I’ve been looking forward to a new record from Built Like Alaska for years. The only thing that satiates my hunger for new music from these Northern Californian fuzzy rock stalwarts is something new from bands like Radar Bros, Shaky Hands, Mercury Rev, or select songs from The Flaming Lips.

Anyway “Red Eye” is just one song from a 2 disc compilation called Portraits: 32 Singers, 32 Songs. There are a bunch of other great artists on the comp and they all have in common playing an independent promoter’s series called “Off The Air” in Modesto, California. For this record each artist was told to record one new song and to keep it on the quiet side. Thus the restraint shown on the Built Like Alaska track. When and if there is a new BLA record I hope this song is on there and I hope they crank it up midway thru.

Lots more info about Portraits: 32 Singers, 32 Songs here.

Red Eye [Download]

Southern Tenant Folk Union

Wednesday, April 14th, 2010

Who wants to hear what it sounds like to combine Scottish folk with bluegrass? I do! I do! The band is called Southern Tenant Folk Union and the new record is The New Farming Scene.

South Ysthie [Download]

Patrick Park – “Come What Will” (Apil 10, Badman Recording Comapny)

Tuesday, April 13th, 2010

Patrick Park is a solid singer-songwriter with a slight folky bent. He’s more polished than the typical Songs:Illinois fair. He also has a great voice which is also not always the case on here. I tend to gravitate toward singer-songwriters who focus more on the song than the singing. Exceptions include folks like Rufus Wainwright, Josh Rouse and Ron Sexsmith. Add Patrick Park to that list.

His new record came out April 10 and is titled Come What Will. You can buy it here.

You’ll Get Over [Download]

My Bubba & Mi – “How It’s Done In Italy”

Monday, April 12th, 2010

I honestly didn’t think I’d get my folksy fix this week from a band based out of Denmark who recorded their debut record in Italy and sing in English. But not only did I get my daily fix I think I found the best free download of the year (except for that Jonathan Burks’ record). A couple other blogs have written about this record by My Bubba & Mi but it’s far from a groundswell. The new record is called How It’s Done In Italy. And the band is made up of three beautiful women who play all the instruments (banjo, dulcimer, guitar, stand up bass, etc) and wrote the bulk of the songs on the record.

I picked one of their originals to share with you – the catchy, old timey song “Steamengeene”. The free download of the record is here, the limited edition cd and 10″ vinyl is here.

Steamengeene [Download]

Otis Gibbs – “Joe Hill’s Ashes”

Friday, April 9th, 2010

Theoretically I’m on top of the music scene. Even so, some great things slip through my fingers. With the demise of indie labels an artist has to do everything right and even then he may still have trouble getting word out about a new record. For example you wouldn’t know it by reading music blogs or even the standard Americana press outlets but Otis Gibbs has a new record out. It’s called Joe Hill’s Ashes, it’s amazing, and for now is available through Bandcamp or directly through Otis here.

Ninebullets really did the record justice with his review here. I can’t say it any better than that.

The Ballad of Johnny Crooked Tree [Download]

Before You Die…

Thursday, April 8th, 2010

Cut and pasted from today’s Swedesplease post:

On my other blog Songs:Illinois I write often of gothic americana bands like O’Death, The Cankickers and Slim Cesna that mix bluegrass and punk, blues and punk, and just about any traditional folk music with punk. Though the Swedish band Before You Die claims they are not country but instead are patterning their music on 50′s and 60′s rock I still hear a mix of the odd combinations mentioned above in their banjo driven rock.

With that said they do impart their music with just the right amount of reverb and retro analog sounding live-in-the-studio recording to cop a bit of that great rock n roll era’s sound. You’ll no doubt also hear Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave…

The new record Spastic Dance will be out soon Lovely Records (the label started by the Swedish band Hellsongs). More info here.

Yesterday’s News [Download]

New music from Sam Quinn, Harlan T. Bobo, and the combo of Jeffrey Focault and Mark Erelli

Wednesday, April 7th, 2010

Nothing “new” from me today, still recovering from vacation, but I do have a couple of recommendations for you.

1. There’s a newish blog called Beat Surrender that is featuring some of the songs from the new covers record from Mark Erelli and Jeffrey Focault called Seven Curses. It’s a nice review as well as a good place to sample the new record. Here’s the post in question. And a song from the record:

Tom Merritt [Download]

2. I’ve always been quite impressed by the bizarre hillbilly cabaret of Harlan T. Bobo. I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned his music on the pages of Songs:Illinois before but I’m a fan. I like that he has created this odd persona that is capable of turning out any number of different song styles. The new record Sucker was reviewed in a post last month in Aquarium Drunkard. Harlan’s label Goner Record’s is giving away the last track on the record – a bi-lingual song that is not shy about it’s sex filled innuendos.

Mlle. Chatte [Download]

3. All good things come in 3′s so here’s the last recommendation. Hear Ya has a new song and a video from Sam Quinn. Sam’s new record will be out on Ramseur Records in early May.

Suite Motown [Download]

Martha Tilston – “Lucy And The Wolves” (April 26)

Monday, April 5th, 2010

I was convinced I wouldn’t write about anything today and half convinced I wouldn’t write about music again period. That was until I learned of the new record from Martha Tilston. I have written about her brand of English folk here and here. She’s got an amazing voice that is put to great use on her songs of love, nature, and the English countryside.

Here’s her song “Rockpools” from the new record Lucy And The Wolves.

Rockpools [Download]