This is embarrassingly early. It was 75 degrees in Chicago yesterday (and like 120 in LA). But I just got this ep from Scott Miller. And it’s a Christmas EP. And it’s got a cover of John Prine’s “Christmas In Prison”. So I can’t resist.
Check out Scott Miller when he comes to Chicago (Martyrs) on Oct 2.
The Duke & The King was previously mostly the work of two guys from middle-of-nowhere NY. They have added members and a more stylized sound with the release of their new record Long Live The Duke & The King. The band which emerged out of the group The Felice Borthers also seems to have practically relocated to the UK. They have a bunch of dates over their, have taken to wearing a sort of London hippie garb and even their website is .co.uk.
“Shine On You” appears to be the first single and I’m torn about it. I think the lyrics are inconsequential, the vocals are too processed, and the music a little tired. I know that’s a tough review from me but this is a band I had/have high hopes for and I don’t think this record has fulfilled them. Listen for yourself and decide. Pre-order the lp here.
Besides being in a playlist type post on Largehearted Boy last week not much has been written about Girl Haggard on the blogs. I’m surprised too because the band combines an indie rock ethos with their honky-tonkin, whiskey-drinkin’ take on country music. I particularly like the lofi aspect of the band’s music. It somehow makes the band more real, more working class, and more authentic even if they’re not cowboys or live in Texas/Nashville (they’re from R.I.).
The new record Country and Eastern came out in September and is available at their shows or on 75 or Less Records.
I’ve been listening to the new “live” record from Gregory Page exclusively for the last 48 hours. His new record was recorded live by Jason Mraz and features both old and new songs. However they all sound old. Like 1920′s old. If HBO’s new show Boardwalk Empire were to feature contemporary music than this would be go-to stuff.
“Love Made Me Drunk” is one of my favorite Gregory Page songs and this rendition is fantastic. Listen for the duet about halfway through and enjoy. Buy this now through Bandcamp here.
P.S. These two press quotes epitomize Gregory’s talent and sens of humor:
NPR Radio ~ “Page’s music is nostalgic; his warbling & instrumentation sound straight out of the phonograph. Listening to him transplants us to some Great Gatsby-like setting where everyone dresses for cocktail hour.
Rolling Stone Magazine ~ “Gregory Page, never heard of him”
Sharon Krauss has a new record coming out in November. I first heard about her when she dueted with Christian Kieffer. I guess she has a small catalog of releases and collaborations over the past ten years. The new record is on Strange Attractors and they claim it’s more electric than her work in the past. But there are not searing electric guitar solos nor heavy wall of sound noise. Instead the record has a spooky, creepy and scary undercurrent that is heightened by drums, bass and an assortment of stringed instruments and bizarre electronics.
“Evergreen Sisters” highlights Sharon’s angelic vocals and heavenly harmonies. The Woody Nightshade comes out on November 2nd on nearly every conceivable format. More info here.
Tony Joe White gets credit for just making it this far. Add to that the fact that he’s made a stripped down record that is not all Nashvilled-out and you’ve got a winner. Released on his own label The Shine features ten new songs that reveal a limited vocal range that nonetheless hits all the right notes. Tony Joe White, much like Cash, Kristofferson and Prine, has slowed down and gone deeper and more introspective as he ages. All the clutter and debris of a Nashville session is stripped away to leave voice, guitar and song.
Judge for yourself and then pick up the new record here.
Besides my house concert on Sunday night (rsvp here) the most interesting show this weekend in Chicago is the rare appearance at the Hideout by Holy Modal Rounder founder Peter Stampfel on Saturday the 18th. Check out this trailer for an upcoming documentary on the band in it’s heyday.
Here’s a little cut and paste from the promoter:
Peter Stampfel – founder of The Holy Modal Rounders; original member of The Fugs — makes his first Chicago-area appearance in 16 years. Don’t miss it. Only $10.00 too.
…Next to Bob Dylan, Peter Stampfel is the nearest thing to a genius folkiedom has thrown up. His enthusiasm is unquenchable. I’ve never heard anyone – anyone – sing with the sheer enthusiasm for singing that Stampfel puts out. He knows his Harry Smith backwards and forwards. But unlike most folksingers, he prefers backwards.
–Robert Christgau, The Village Voice
Peter Stampfel’s singing and timing are superb. His raucousness has to be heard to be believed. His unfailingly enthusiastic vocals are a delight.
–The New York Times
Someone a lot smarter than me should be reviewing this new record from Marc Ribot. Someone more on top of his catalog should be trying to figure out where this rather minimal song cycle fits in. Someone with a good grasp of the guitar player scene and Marc Ribot’s place in the rareified air at the top of the guitar player pyramid should be doing this review.
But since they’re not and probably won’t, I’ll at least share with you a track from Marc Ribot’s new record Silent Movies. Buy it here.
This release is not exactly new but the accolades are pouring in and it’s the best thing I’ve heard in a minute so here goes. Zoe Muth And The Lost High Rollers are based in Seattle but you won’t hear any grunge in their take on traditional country. Most of the songs are on the slower side with weepy pedal steel; it’s on these songs that Zoe succeeds in melding singers/writers like Lucinda Williams, John Prine and Emmylou Harris into her own unique style. The recording of her debut album puts her voice front and center. Like all good old country the sound of the record emanates a soft warm glow like that old comfortable sweater you get out each November.
“You Only Believe Me When I’m Lying” is a nice twist on the jealous boyfriend and cheating girlfriend song genre. Buy the record here through Signature Sounds Signature Discoveries series.
As someone else said in a review of this record perhaps it should be called “Northwestern Country” since Caleb Klauder and company are from the great northwest. But the sound is pure west coast country. Inspired by some of the early Bakersfield sound, as well as a hint of Southern bluegrass, Caleb is a leading light in the modern honky-tonk movement.
“Hole In My Heart” sounds like it could have been written, performed, and recorded in the early 50′s. However the sentiment of a broken heart torn asunder is timeless. Buy the new record here.
Anna Coogan’s new record is called The Nocturnal Among Us. These are songs for late at night. They are quiet so it helps to have all the distractions and noise of the day behind you before you put the record on. The song “Crooked Sea” builds a little bit toward the end, but in its essence is a quiet little folk song. Anna Coogan’s new record is a pay what you want type deal. Buy it now here.
New music from an album called Southern Son, So Far by James Justin Burke. On the song “Garden” (and in fact the whole record) there is an intriguing mix of electric and acoustic music. It’s hard not to get the whole Avett Brothers vibe on this song. In special guest department news Ben Bridwell of Band Of Horses fame sings harmony vocals on “The Rescue”.
Looks like cdbaby is the best place to pick this one up here.
Mike Farris and friends have put together a charity ep with proceeds going to the victims of the Nashville flood. This song and the ep features some great musicianship including people like Sam Bush, Kenny Vaughn, and Gill Landry.
P.S. I have recently started a new venture so the posts on songs:Illinois may get even shorter, but I don’t expect any lapse in quality. Thanks for reading, writing, and listening to me for the past six years.
Glad you found me at my new url. Songs:Illinois is committed to writing about music that is under-appreciated and unique. I've found that the music I write about shares a couple of traits. And they are: lyrical integrity, musically diverse, and written/performed by compelling characters.
Most songs found here are free and legal and have been provided by either the artist or label. If for some reason you'd like to have a song removed, please email me at cbonnell (at) gmail.com.