Archive for May, 2010

Michael Hall (No, not that one. No, not that one either) (ex-Wild Seeds, ex-The Setters)

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

At the moment I’m uploading all my cd’s onto iTunes in anticipation of some sort of music in the cloud announcement coming in June. Occasionally I’ve been posting little tweets like “Best Felt record = A Poem By The River and “Best Steve Earle record = Train A Comin’“.

So anyway I’m going to do a tweet saying “Best Michael Hall record = All of them.” I thought I would expand a bit here on the music of Michael Hall. There’s plenty of biographical info on the web but I know Michael Hall as the lead singer of the 90′s band Wild Seeds. He’s since become an eclectic and until the past few years prolific songwriter. I’m taken in one way or another by all of his records and 99% of his songs. It seems like the majority of his catalog including his work with The Wild Seeds and the Austin supergroup The Setters (Walter Salas Humara and Alejandro Escoveda) is still available. Click here to order anything from his catalog. Here’s a sampling:

The Song He Was Listening To When He Died [Download]

America [Download]
(the band not the country)
Put Down That Pig [Download]

Dead By Dinner [Download]

Michale Hall is now a writer with a social justice slant with Texas Monthly. Here’s a link to a number of his investigative articles and features.

Jeffrey Luck Lewis – “The Lion’s Jaw”

Thursday, May 27th, 2010

It’s funny but the first thing I thought about when I heard the new record from Jeffrey Luck Lewis was the music blog Slowcoustic. Not surprisingly when I did a search I found that they have covered Lewis extensively in the past. Makes sense too since Jeffrey Luck Lewis is a sad sack who sings in a hushed voice over melodramaticly rich and somber instrumentation. I hope that sentence didn’t make it seem like I was putting him down. I for one have had my periods of listening to music like this (two years of David Sylvian on repeat for instance). I’m also a fan of Gregory Page, Tindersticks, Nick Cave and Nick Drake.

The new record is called The Lion’s Jaw and I like the title track from it.

The Lion’s Jaw [Download]

Treme Brass Band – “I’ve Got A Big Fat Woman” (Sound Of New Orleans Records, May 31)

Wednesday, May 26th, 2010

“Photograph © Charles Silver-All Rights Reserved”

Please don’t think that this big brass band is jumping on the HBO Treme bandwagon. This band has been around for generations in the Treme neighborhood. It predates that show by decades much as this music predates modern jazz, blues, and rock `n’ roll. They’re as much “the real deal” as you’ll find these days. The Treme Brass band have a new record called I’ve Got A Big Fat Woman.

This song, “Back Of Town Blues”, features trumpet solos, jubilant bluesy vocals and a Fat Tuesday meets Mardi Gras attitude. You can buy the new record here.

Back Of Town Blues [Download]

Andrew Karnanavas – “Film Noir”

Monday, May 24th, 2010

The title track to Andrew Karnarvas‘ new record is called “Film Noir”. From the title alone you might get a good idea of the sound. There are strings, fragments of stories in black and white, unattainable love and a dangerous femme fatale.

Film Noir [Download]

Danielle Doyle – “The Cartographer’s Wife”

Thursday, May 20th, 2010

I imagine a simple song is one of the hardest to write. I imagine it must seem every combination of words has already been used up. I imagine there are lots of false starts and endless revisions. I imagine at the end of the day you hope you’d wind up with something like “My Bird” off the new record The Cartographer’s Wife by Danielle Doyle.

This is Danielle Doyle’s debut record and was put together with the help of a bunch of up and coming Boston based artists. She has already been rewarded by being named a 2009 Mountain Stage New Song Youth Winner, as well as opening up for a bunch of luminaries (Loudon Wainwright III, Dawn Landes, Heather Masse). She’ll be appearing this Saturday at the fabled Club Passim in Cambridge for a matinee show with friend Beth Colegrove.

Pick up the new record here via CD Baby.

My Bird [Download]

Sarah Elizabeth Campbell – “Geraldine & Ruthie Mae” (from 1990′s “A Little Tenderness”)

Tuesday, May 18th, 2010

There is a direct correlation between a female singer’s beauty/shape/age and the amount/level of success that she can attain. Give me any example of a famous or even “indie” famous female singer and beauty/thinness/age plays a role: Cat Power, Sheryl Crow, Laura Marling, Sarah Harmer, Tift Merritt, Liz Phair the list is endless. Even in the more level playing field of folk/americana music beauty still plays a role. Not as much but nonetheless.

I blame the lack of success of Sarah Elizabeth Campbell to this attitude that we need our women singers to be a certain shape, have a certain look, and exude a certain sexual prowess. Admittedly there could be instances where artists shoot themselves in the foot (see the Little Tenderness artwork below). But on the whole looks have way more of an impact on a person’s career than is necessary. Sarah Elizabeth Campbell in her prime could out-write and out-sing anyone else on the scene. Her two independently released records A Little Tenderness (1990) and Running With You (1994) are stellar examples of the genre but despite critical acclaim went nowhere.

If you want to read more about Sarah Elizabeth Campbell’s interesting life in and out of music her bio can be found here. Here is her song “Geraldine & Ruthie Mae from the debut album A Little Tenderness. It’s a song about the fear of being homeless, infirm and losing your natural abilities (in this case Sarah Elizabeth Campbell’s voice). It’s a chilling tale of the fear we all must have about what our future life may be like.

Geraldine & Ruthie Mae [Download]

P.S. I’m finally uploading all my CD’s to iTunes so I may occasionally revisit a song or an artist from the past. Rest assured the songs will be out of print and the artists obscure but deserving. This is the first such post.

Stone River Boys – “Love On The Dial (Cow Island Music, May 18)

Monday, May 17th, 2010

I never thought to put the two words “country” and “funk” together. But that’s just what the guys in Stone River Boys are up to. You can hear both ends of that spectrum on “The Struggle” from their latest record Love On The Dial with it’s incessant bass line, groovy horn section, and and both funky and country guitar. I’m honestly not sure if it works for me.

The band consists of Dave Gonzalez of the Hacienda Brothers and Mike Barfield of the Hollisters. Live they have a full band with pedal steel and I imagine it’s a funky good time.

The Struggle [Download]

Honky-Tonk Friday – Watermelon Slim – “Ringers” (Northern Blues, June 1)

Friday, May 14th, 2010

I was hoping this song from the forthcoming Watermelon Slim record “Ringers” had a touch of twang so I could fit it into the Friday honky-tonk feature. Luckily for me (and you) it’s got a full size heaping of twang from the pedal steel to the duet to the lyrics about “good old boys”.

Preorder this June 1st release through Northern Blues here and receive a signed copy.

Good Old Boys Never Change [Download]

Bonus tracks from back catalog:

Don’t Go [Download]

Black Water [Download]

BIGott – “This Is The Beginning Of A Beautiful Friendship” (Spain is the new Sweden post)

Tuesday, May 11th, 2010

If someone were to ask me what type of music blog I would start right now I think I would say a Spanish twee blog. Spain is the new Sweden. There is a ton of great music, particularly twee, coming out of Spain for some reason. Today’s post is by the band BIGott.

BIGott is really just this one hairy guy (see above) who combines the innocence of Jonathan Richman with the pop sensibilities and European accents of Herman Dune. It’s a nice combination as you can hear on the song “Sparkle Motion” taken from his new record This Is The Beginning Of A Beautiful Friendship.

Sparkle Motion [Download]


“Dead Mum Walking”

Dana Cooper – “The Conjurer”

Monday, May 10th, 2010

Hey there,

I’m a little under the weather so I’m going to keep this brief. Dana Cooper is a singer songwriter who has been around and recording since his Electra debut back in 1973. His new record is called The Conjurer. “Good Place To Begin” is a well rounded track that just sounds great. Subtle instrumentation, gorgeous vocals, and pure singer/songwriter craftsmanship.

Buy the cd or the digital version with bonus tracks here.

OK…now it’s back to bed for me.

Good Place To Begin [Download]

Happiest Lion – “Mammoth Moon”

Friday, May 7th, 2010

If I were to rename this blog I think something like “Awkward Dude With Guitar…” might be apropo. Some of the best music of the last few decades could be described as such. Think Bob Dylan, Bright Eyes, Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, etc., etc. I’m not saying Happiest Lion is in the same category as those guys but he’s at least on the same planet. Happiest Lion is Caleb Groh. He’s now based in Boston and Mammoth Moon is his second record. Til the month of June Mammoth Moon is for sale for $1 as a digital download from Bandcamp here.

I’m smitten by Caleb’s vocal style, obtuse lyrics (and song titles), and the eclectic sounds on this record. The style of music is a nearly indescribable mix of folk, indie rock, Appalachian jugband (not really, but that’s a vibe I’m getting on a couple of songs) and some kind of butchered bluegrass (mandolin, banjo on many tracks). Here’s one of the more simple songs on the record and one of the loveliest.

Lo, In the Leaves [Download]

“Boyhood Blithe”

Boyhood Blithe/Mammoth Moon from Caleb on Vimeo.

“Mammoth Moon”

“All That Sultry Summer Long”

Bob Cheevers – “Tall Texas Tales”

Thursday, May 6th, 2010

Alright let’s go from one living national treasure (Johnny Dowd here) to another (Bob Cheevers). I jumped the gun writing about this record back in January. It seems the February 2010 release date was pushed back and now Bob Cheevers’ new record, Tall Texas Tales, just got a proper American release on April 20 with a record release show at Saxon’s Pub on May 15th.

“Luckenbach” with it’s tex-mex accordion and references to Lone Star Beer, banditos, and breezy front porches is a perfect example of the songs on this Texas themed record. Buy it now here via Village Records.

Luckenbach [Download]

Johnny Dowd – “Wake Up The Snakes”

Wednesday, May 5th, 2010

It’s interesting and a somewhat sad commentary on music blogs that someone like Johnny Dowd, whose new record was released in March of this year, is nowhere to be found. While the regular cast of music bloggers that I like write about stuff that is under the radar, on the whole it seems like if you don’t issue multiple press releases with several different pr firms you’re not going to get any attention on the blogs. It’s a shame because Johnny Dowd is a living national treasure. He’s Alex Chilton if Chilton didn’t have a hit with The Box Tops, Tom Waits if he never made it and was still a barfly in Ensenada, and Nick Cave without the long face (and occasional pretension).

“Yolanda” is a swampy rock thing that describes a woman and her abusive father (who eventually gets what he deserves). It’s from the new record called Wake Up The Snakes. A perfect title for a record that at times recalls a Pentecostal revival. Buy this here via Johnny’s site.

Yolanda [Download]

Honkey-Tonk Tuesday with Miss Leslie

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

Miss Leslie is both a fan and creator of real country music based out of Houston, Tx. Her own music blog is a treasure trove of music videos of legends from the past as well as a diary of a woman who juggles her music, her life, and her family. Wrong Is What I Do Best is her new CD. She is releasing it herself and doing all the press and promotion.

Here’s the title track “Wrong Is What I Do Best”. It’s your basic good-girl-mixed-up-with-a-bad-guy” country music song elevated to another level with guitar by the amazing Bill Kirchen, pedal steel by Ricky Davis, and fiddle by Miss Leslie herself.

Get your signed copy of this record here for only 8 buck via Miss Leslie’s blog.

Wrong Is What I Do Best [Download]

Strtayfolk – “What Wouldn’t I do”

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

The Swedish americana band Strayfolk released a new song on the netlabel Bad Panda Records. Usually the bands I write about on Swedesplease don’t cross over on to Songs:Illinois but this downtempo song with its fingerpicking, mellow delivery, and plaintive lyrics is perfect for a Monday morning.

What Wouldn’t I Do [Download]