Archive for November, 2010

Heligoats/Sam Humans Split 10″

Monday, November 29th, 2010

The Heligoats and Sam Humans have a split 10″ slab of vinyl coming out on Jan 11. Though they don’t exactly share the same sensibilities this combo seems to work. Although the Heligoats might not like the reference I heard a bit of the Waterboys Mike Scott in the song “Moon See Day See”, especially in the gleeful whoops and soaring vocals. I don’t know much about Sam Humans but I expect that if you are a fan of Mountaingoats, John Vanderslice or Silver Jews than you’ll like what he’s doing on “Hate Is The New Love”.

You can preorder the new record here. Here’s a song from each.

Hate Is the New Love [Download]
– Sam Humans

Moon See Day See [Download]
The Heligoats

Foxtrot – “From Wilderness to Wanderlust”

Tuesday, November 23rd, 2010

As someone who was an early supporter of bands like Blitzen Trapper and Frontier Ruckus, I like to think I have a certain kind of taste that, while it doesn’t guarantee any type of commercial success, often does equal critical acclaim. I don’t know if the Portland based band Foxtrot is ever going to get out of the bars and taverns of the great Northwest, but from their recorded output on their debut I think they have a shot.

On the song “Eire” from the band’s debut From Winderness to Wonderland they throw everything but the kitchen sink into this 3 minute song that defies easy categorization. It’s that wild abandon (they just recorded a 13 minute opus for their next ep) that I find so attractive. The record has just now became available in iTunes here and is also available through CD Baby here.

Eire [Download]

Aidan Knight – “Friendly Fire”

Monday, November 22nd, 2010

Aidan Knight’s debut record got a lot of attention earlier in 2010. The record was called Versicolour and the song “Jasper” made it onto a bunch of music blogs. Aidan’s back with a 2 song 7″ that’s got a little Sufjan Stevens and a little Chris Garneau. There are sensitive quiet parts and soaring harmonies. The song also stops and starts which gives it an odd cadence.

Friendly Fire [Download]

Bonus song:

Jasper [Download]

Nik Freitas – “Center of the World”

Friday, November 19th, 2010

I’ve been writing about Nik Freitas for a while now. But even I was surprised by the diy nature and cheap synth power pop stylings of his new song “Center of the World”. It took a couple listens for me to get it. I’ll go the extra mile for someone like Nik though. His new ep is called Center of the World and is available here.

Center of the World [Download]

Mike Viola and Kelly Jones – “A Way To Say Goodbye”

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

There are two irreplaceable duet type records in my library. And no, they are not big budget, major label, let’s-find-a-way-to-make-more-money type one offs. They are Cry Cry Cry with Richard Shindell, Dar Williams and Lucy Kaplansky and a record by Jules Shear called Between Us. That I mention this new EP of duets from Mike Viola and Kelly Jones in the same paragraph as my two favorites is high praise indeed.

The ep is called Melon and was recorded in a church in upstate New York. The song “Way To Say Goodbye” is a crushingly sad song about lost love, hidden secrets and lost opportunities. You can buy the EP here through Mike’s site.

A Way To Say Goodbye [Download]

David Dondero – “Not Everybody Likes Your Doggie Like You Do”

Tuesday, November 16th, 2010

That this David Dondero song is about a dog is irrelevant. David could sing about just about anything and I’d listen. It’s not like he has a great voice, but it’s just that he is so unique. Like the Mountain Goats, Silver Jews, or Bright Eyes, David has a style that is singular and original. It doesn’t hurt that he’s one of the best songwriters of his generation. This is one of the lighter songs I’ve heard from him and as a result it also reminds me a bit of Jonathan Richman.

This song is from the upcoming release on Ghostmeat Records titled A Pre-existing Condition.

Not Everybody Likes Your Doggie Like You Do [Download]


Wherever You Go [Download]

Video of David performing “Doggie” (be the 7th person to watch!)

Songs:Illinois Christmas Mixtape (2010 Edition)

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Hey There,

Merry Christmas. It’s that time again, time to spread a little holiday cheer (I’m even getting requests for this mix). Here’s my (anti) Christmas mix. A bunch of these songs are borderline sacrilegious and others are only just a little bitter (and who can blame them this time of year). There are some real gems in here though and I hope you enjoy them with your family sitting around the fire while decorating your tree.


P.S. Here’s the first new Christmas song from 2010 that is good enough to make this list. It comes from the new Christmas album from Cristabel and the Jons. “I’d Like You For Christmas” is an overlooked classic that this Knoxville based roots/swing band takes and makes their own. Preorder the new album here.

I’d Like You For Christmas [Download]

P.S. I’ll update this mix as new songs come in.

P.P.S. I know I should really have a link to a zip file but I don’t have the energy to do it. If you want to help and throw that together email me the link at

12/17/10 UPDATE

Every year there is a new Christmas song that just knocks me down with it’s sincerity, its mixed feelings about this time of year, and the performances of the artist. This year is no exception and that song is “Christmas Song” by Adam Remnant of the band Southeast Engine. Its mixture of sad nostalgia, childish wonder and naivite, and the slight hope and “reprieve” that comes from more a adult version of the holiday. This song is part of a compilation called A Very Ohio Christmas put together by the guys at Each Note Secure and Donewaiting with the proceeds going to Gracehaven – “an organization that raises awareness about the issue of domestic minor sex trafficking and also seeks to provide shelter and rehabilitation to girls who have been victims of commercial sexual exploitation.” Featured on the disc are original Christmas songs by Megan Palmer, Moviola, You, You’re Awesome and many more. Buy it here via Bandcamp.

Christmas Song [Download]

12/15/10 UPDATE

Here’s a cover of Robert Earl Keen’s “Merry Christmas from The Family” from the Nashville based band Lindley Ruth and Her Tipsy String Band (with Jordan Hull).

Merry Christmas From The Family [Download]
(that morphs into “Blue Christmas” at the end)

12/14/10 UPDATE

I’m a big fan of Boston’s Caleb Groh. Whether it’s as a part of his lofi indie pop band Happiest Lion or his Christmas music project Caleb and the Caroling Caravan. So I was thrilled when he sent me a link to his new release – Vol. II of his Christmas music series. It’s available in its entirety on Bandcamp here. But for now check out his original “Christmas is Best” and the cover of the carol “I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day”.

Christmas Is Best [Download]

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day [Download]

12/10/10 UPDATE

Here’s a little indie folk from Nashville via the band Haunting Party (essentially Nathanael Mehrens and Aimee Romero). I like the juxtaposition of vocals on “Baby It’s Cold Out There”. That and the fact that this song, in all it’s variations, has been stuck in my head for the last week makes this an easy pick. There are 5 more songs on their Christmas ep here via Bandcamp.

Baby It’s Cold Outside [Download]

12/08/10 UPDATE

I’ve written about Lisa Cerbone in the past (here). It seems she and I both have kids about the same age. I’m guessing her daughter had at least something to do with this song selection. Here’s “The Chipmunk Song” (or The Chipmunk Christmas song as it’s know in my house).

The Chipmunk Song [Download]

12/07/10 UPDATE

We’ve got an update with songs from two bands that are mining the same territory but searching for different minerals. The west coast folk collective Branches uses traditional Appalachian instruments in their brand of indie folk. You can hear tyhis more on their two eps but a slight presence is present in these two Chrtistmas songs as well (mandolin, banjo).

O Come All Ye Faithful [Download]

Silent Night [Download]

Travel By Sea play a sleepy version of americana with weepy pedal steel and drowsy Neil Young inclined vocals.

I’ll Be Home For Christmas [Download]

I Heard The Bells On Christmas Day [Download]

12/06/10 UPDATE

Pleased as punch to add this Memphis themed Christmas tune from Star And Micey.

Memphis Christmas [Download]

You might think this is disingenuous but I’m also pleased as punch to offer up this Christmas song from American Gun (love the Social D undertones). This song and the compilation it comes from is available here via the record label Rose and Arrow.

Little Manger [Download]

12/01/10 UPDATE

Slowcoustic and the Yer Bird record label provided me with this gorgeous cover of “Let It Snow” by Greater Pacific. The band has an EP coming out at the end of January. For now enjoy this languid take on “Let It Snow”.

Let It Snow [Download]

11/30/10 UPDATE

Fuzzy garage rock Christmas song from Buffalo Killers.

Secret Santa [Download]
– Buffalo Killers

11/29/10 UPDATE

Hard not to add the song “Whore For The Holidays” since I sometimes call this mix the anti-Christmas mix. This is a good slab of piano based pop from The Davenports (who I just wrote about here).

Whore For The Holidays [Download]
– The Davenports

11/27/10 UPDATE

Here’s something I missed when it came out in 2009. Don’t blame me though as the artist is as obscure and, in parts, as talented as you can get. I’ve written about his oddball lofi folk before (he performs under the name Happiest Lion). Here he goes by Caleb and Caroling Caravan and his 2009 Christmas release is available here free.

Christmas Don’t Be Late [Download]

11/26/10 UPDATE:

Thanks to Herohill for pointint us in the direction of the new Christmas song from OX. I had these guys play a house concert a couple of years back as they were driving through on the way to SXSW. Great guys – great band – great songs!

Xmas in the Jailhouse (via Herohill [Download]

11/17/10 UPDATE:

Here’s a reader’s suggestion of a little more sacrilegious Christmas music; this time from Las Vegas’ best and only Irish folk-punk-rock band. I can’t help but like the line “and Santa Claus and Jesus Christ can kiss my Irish ass”.

Whiskey Christmas – Darby O’Gill and the Little People [Download]


The Holidays Are Here (And We’re Still At War) [Download]
– Brett Dennen

I Wanna Spend My Xmas Time With You [Download]
– Phil Lee

Christmastime Blues – Jaimi Shuey [Download]
(her 2007 debut release Wrong Girl is a must have!)

Bastard Brothers [Download]
– Chip Taylor

All Alone For Christmas [Download]
– Danny Barnes

Goodbye England (Covered In Snow) [Download]
– Laura Marling

Christmas In Paradise [Download]
– Mary Gauthier

Thanks for the Roses (Merry Christmas) [Download]
– Antje Duvekot

She’s Underneath the Mistletoe [Download]
– Antsy McClain

Here comes Christmas [Download]
– Bill Kelly

Crazy Cool Christmas [Download]
– Kermit Ruffins

Cold White Christmas [Download]
– Casiotone For The Painfully Alone

Great Adventure [Download]
– Dan Byrk

I Want a Hippopotomus For Christmas [Download]
– Paul Vickers And Leg

Christmas Is Coming Soon [Download]
– Blitzen Trapper

Christmas Doesn’t Have To Be So Bad [Download]
– The Backsliders

Christmas Or Columbus (Andy Hong’s Kitchen) [Download]
– Drew O’Doherty

Christmas Is For Losers – Mike Nicolai

Cosy Evenings [Download]
– Dan Byrk

All I Ever Get for Christmas Is Blue [Download]
– Over The Rhine

O Holy Night [Download]
– Benji Cossa

Darling Christmas Is Coming [Download]
– Over The Rhine

The Christmas Song [Download]
– Nourallah Brothers

You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch [Download]
– Asylum Street Spankers

Christmas At The Trailer Park [Download]
– Antsy McClain

The Little Baby [Download]
– Hefner

So this Is Christmas [Download]
– ? (lost in the shuffle – extra points if you leave the answer in the comments)

Santa’s Hungover [Download]
– Santa’s Hungover

Christmas In Vermont [Download]
– Ed’s Redeeming Qualities

God Rest You Merry Gentlemen [Download]
– Hoax Funeral

Be My Valentine On Christmas – Glenna Bell

The Christmas Song [Download]
– Mark Jungers

Red Eyed Santa [Download]
– Dick Smith

Gold Front Tooth [Download]
– Dick Smith

That Was The Worst Christmas Ever [Download]
– Sufjan Stevens

I Hate Fucking Christmas [Download]
– The Rugburns (live)

Christmas Past – Mike Ireland and Holler

Christmas In London [Download]
– Krista Detour

Christmas In Prison – Emmy the Great and Lightspeed Champion

Christmas In Prison Live – Will Kimbrough

Christmas In Prison [Download]
– Cristabel and the Jons

Christmas Eve – Salim Nourallah

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear [Download]
– Laura Gibson

It’s Almost Christmas [Download]
– Chris Garneau

Just Like Christmas [Download]
– Low

Christmas Card From A Hooker In Minneapolis [Download]
– Neko Case

Christmas Island – Leon Redbone

X-Mas Song [Download]
– Fireflies

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas [Download]
– Rose Polenzani

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas [Download]
– Hem

I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Clause – John Prine

Merry Christmas From The Family – Robert Earl Keen

Merry Christmas From The Family [Download]
– Jill Sobule

Christmas On Ward #7 – Chris Flew [Download]

Driving Home, Christmas Eve [Download]
– Frontier Ruckus

Jewish For Christmas [Download]
– Coconut and The Duke (from former blogger Duke Of Straw)

What Do You Give A Wookie For Christmas? -Savanteous Q Malmsteen [Download]

Christmas Vision [Download]
– Beau Jennings

Murder By Mistletoe [Download]
– The Felice Brothers

It Never Snows [Download]
– The Parson Red Heads

Don’t Want Another Christmas Like Last Christmas [Download]
– Gentleman Auction House

Christmas Time [Download]
– The Krayolas With Augie Meyers

Christmas Song [Download]
– Detroit Junior

It’s Christmas Time Again [Download]
– Harley Poe

RockABilly Christmas [Download]
– Michael Bishop

So Much Wine [Download]
– The Handsome Family

I’m Grateful for Christmas This Year [Download]
– Hayes Carll

River [Download]
– Lex Land

New music from Boston based singer/songwriter Jenee Halstead

Friday, November 12th, 2010

Well the end of the year and the end of most label’s release schedule is almost upon us. Thus the lack of posts this week. It’ll be a little slow on Songs:Illinois for the next couple of months. We do have a lot of great Christmas music to look forward to though and the Songs:Illinois annual Christmas post will be up shortly and then constantly updated.

Please consider purchasing the new Songs:Illinois shirt as a Christmas present for yourself (I’m sure your significant other isn’t cool enough to get it for you!).


With all of that said I do have some music from a singer/songwriter out of Boston named Jenee Halstead. Her new EP, Hollow Bones, is out now. “Damascus” is the first track off the EP. Jenee’s crystal clear vocals are augmented by a band that includes standup bass, pedal steel and fiddle. Buy the new EP here via CDBaby.

Damascus [Download]

New music from Chicago blue eyed soul crooner (and occasional power pop rocker) Adam Fitz

Monday, November 8th, 2010

Chris Mills is coming back to his hometown for a show at the Hideout on Dec. 3. I love Chris Mills. Live, on record, on youtube, in the kitchen, watching the telly. I suggest you attend. As a bonus Chicago soul crooner Adam Fitz is opening up. These two songs are from a forthcoming record Curing Too Much with More. “After Party” is a power pop rave up with crunchy guitars while “Lost In It” is a perfect slab of organ drenched blue eyed soul.

This combination of Chris Mills and Adam Fitz is going to make this a great show.

After Party [Download]


Lost In It [Download]

Kevin Connolly – “Fall River”

Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Back to Boston again, actually “Fall River” to be exact. Fall River is a small city near Boston that has seen better days. It’s a lot like any other post-industrial city in the Northeast. It’s textile plants are abandoned, the river that snakes through town had long been polluted but now is cleaned up, and everyone hopes some miracle will save the town (a proposed casino in this instance). But with industry gone and continuing to leave what is this small city or any small city expected to do.

That’s the question Kevin Connolly asks on his song “Fall River” from his latest release North/East. This song has so many great details that you’d think you are staring right down main street. It also has a bunch of great lines like “all the crooked politicians and the oxycontin kings strut their stuff down Courtney Rd. and screw up everything” and “casinos are coming soon don’t have to worry about anything”. Buy the new cd here. And catch Kevin at Bull McCabes in Sommerville on Saturday, November 13.

Fall River [Download]

The David Wax Museum – “The Persimmon Tree”

Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

If you ever stop and wonder where a certain artist lives that you’ve heard on Songs:Illinois there’s a 50/50 chance they’re either from Boston or Austin. That’s because Boston is the original home of folk based music in the US and Austin is the new home of roots music. So flip a coin and see where it lands for The David Wax Museum. Boston wins out over Austin today.

This record came out in early 2010. The band made a little stir this summer at the Newport Folk Festival and from there they are picking up radio play and tour dates. So this record is a grower. It’ll grow on you and it continues to grow across the country. This song is from the new record Carpenter Bird; it’s called “The Persimmon Tree”.

The Persimmon Tree [Download]

David Wax Museum – The Persimmon Tree from Steve Legare on Vimeo.

Aidan John Moffat – A Whole 10 Song Record In Under 9 Minutes

Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

A lot of hipper blogs than this one have seemingly passed on the new record from Arab Strap founder Aidan John Moffat. The record is a mix of styles tied together by Aidan’s deep Scottish voice/accent and his, at times, strange sensibilities. The new record is called Ten Short Songs For Modern Lovers and it is just that short. The whole record has a total run time of 9 minutes. It’s a pretty ballsy, anti-commercial move and one that works when listened to all the way through.

The song “Less Than Three” uses internet shorthand (lol, bbb, omfg) to get it’s point across in under 1:20. Buy the record here.

Less Than Three [Download]

“Whisper It” Video