I tell you what, this blogging thing is tougher than it looks. Finding new music and separating the wheat from the chaff is harder than you might think. That’s why it’s nice to occasionally have a known commodity to write about. In this case it’s the great folk/blues artist David Olney. The cool thing is this song is from a project that is completely different from his previous work. The new record is called David Olney Presents: Film Noir. And yes, from this first taste the style is certainly representative of the film noir genre.
Sometimes seeing someone live is all it takes. I saw Carrie Elkin play a stirring set over SXSW this past week and it turned me into a convert for her new record Call It My Garden. Carrie’s been know as a woman with a huge vocal range and a pedal to the metal singer. But there is a real nuance to the bulk of the performances on the new Red House record. During her live set I fell for her intimate songs “Berlin” and “Lift Up The Anchor”. But I’m going to go in another direction and share with you the fan favorite and her folk radio hit, “Jesse Like Birds”.
If you were alive and living in Boston in the late 80′s (and had quirky taste in music) you may have heard of Ed’s Redeeming Qualities. Also if you were a college radio dj you may have spun their one hit “Lawndart” which could be found on one of those CMJ samplers which were ubiquitous back then. I don’t remember when I first heard the band but it was a musical changing point for me.
The band played a variety of folky instruments (ukulele, violin, and coffee-can percussion) and sung mostly off key. But that, along with some devastatingly good songs, was the band’s charm.
Well, after all this time the band has re-released some of their earliest homemade cassettes as newly remastered CD’s. These are recordings done by the original lineup of the band before the tragic death of Dom Leone. These are now available for sale at CD Baby and if you were a fan of the band or a fan of indie pop or anti-folk then you’ll want to pick these up. Here’s one of my favorite songs and the only song ever about exploding seagulls and the role they play in a serious relationship.
I know a tiny bit about Kip Boardman because his debut record came out on the excellent, but practically extinct, Boronda Records. Charlie McGovern was the label prez and has great taste. Anything on the label was invariably of high quality. Kip’s back on a new label with his third release titled The Long Weight.
The new record is being compared to the great American songbooks of Harry Nillson, Paul Simon, Randy Newman and Allan Toussaint. The songs below are laid back and Kip is a fairly humble, low key, kind of guy. So that makes it kind of hard to hype this release and I bet that is just fine with Kip. This came out on March 15 but some retailers won’t have it til April. Buy one of the last 5 copies Amazon has here.
No time for a full SXSW update but I did want to share these amateurish video’s I took of Sam Baker, Danny Schmidt, Storyhill, Matt The Electrician, and Slaid Cleaves from various showcases. Although the quality may be lacking the songwriting and emotion behind the songs does come through.
Alexa Woodward plays the banjo. Which automatically gets her labeled as some type of Appalachian throwback. But her music is too layered, eclectic, and cerebral to be categorized as old timey folk of that particular variety. For instance on a number of songs from her new record It’s A Good Life… you’ll hear cello, odd percussion, and deep rich bass. However, thematically the songs do tend to lend themselves to a more folkish bent. For example allusions to nature, spirits, and loneliness abound on the song “Darkest Days”.
I think remember getting an email from someone about Slithering Beast but honestly the name was so bizarre I think I passed it up. Since then I’ve been listening to the songs from their (his) hew EP Delicious and have decided to share them with you. While this is not hard core honky-tonk, there are elements that will remind you of various country music standard bearers. Most notably the chunky bass lines, twangy guitars, and a certain rebellious ethos emanating from the songs.
Here are two tracks from the new EP that you can get here.
Shit! Shit! Shit! I had a post all ready to go today and then this damn song by Butch Hornsby performed by Will Kimbrough from an upcoming book project by author Cyril Vetter crossed my desk. I can’t say I know much about Butch Hornsby (and the internet is no help) although those in the know in the Louisiana music community extol his talent and genius. He’s got a somewhat typical rock `n’ roll story of tremendous talent laid waste by alcohol. Butch died in 2004 but by then he had achieved a more stable life and was loved by his wife and family. Besides his music he left behind some fine examples of folk art/sculpture.
The new book on Butch’s life is part fiction and part fact. It’s called “Dirt Dobber Blues” and is being released as both a hardcover and an ebook some time in March. Accompanying the book are some of Butch’s folk art as well as a cd and transcriptions of his songs. It looks like an amazing and fascinating package for any music fan. You can pre-order the book here.
The song in question that put my day in a bit of a tailspin is called “I Ain’t No Chauffeur”. It’s a beautiful song and an equally beautiful performance by Will Kimbrough.
How can I not write about a guy named Tex Smith, lives in Austin, Texas and has a record charting on a bunch of Americana charts? Especially since I’ll be down in Austin in under a week. Tex’s new record is called To A Bird Singing Woe. Tex describes his sound somewhere as a bit like an old scratchy country record. I can definitely hear that on this record and in particular on the sweet little ballad (duet with HalleyAnna Finlay) “Come On”. It’s a beautiful, simple song you’re sure to love.
Buy the record here through Cd Baby. Check out Tex on the South By Sam’s Town Point SXSW day party w/Leatherbag, Glossary, Vulture Whale and many others.
I’m pretty much done with overproduced crap. I just don’t have time for it. The lack of energy and emotion that is present on nearly all overproduced albums is stupefying. Give me bare bones rock `n’ roll over that shit any day. It’s a bonus if it’s a demo recording, but I’ll take under-produced due to youth and naiveté all day long. I know I’ve typecast myself as a folk/roots guy but if you’ll notice there are rock `n’ roll bands scattered throughout the Songs:Illinois archives. Of late I’ve been writing about bands like The Leadership, White Fang, Black Coyote, and State Champion. If it were a different time (say the late 80′s) you could replace those band names with The Replacements, Uncle Tupelo, Dumptruck and Big Dipper. But it’s the teens for goodness sake so today I’m writing about a rock band from Toledo called Frank & Jesse.
You wouldn’t have heard of them just yet. Their debut record isn’t out til April. I don’t think they’ve played a ton of shows, though they did just open for Two Cow Garage. But they need our support. They’re young and energetic, they write kick ass songs, and they sing and play with abandon. After listening to “Breakdown” from the forthcoming record Let It Come Down you can head over to their Kickstarter page to help them get the new record released on 180 gram vinyl here. Hear another song, “Baton Rouge”, streaming via Bandcamp here.
I’m on vacation in the Keys so this post is not getting the attention it deserves from me but I hope that won’t hinder you from giving it all of your attention and focus. Cam Penner has a new record out called Gypsy Summer that immediately struck me as both more personal and more accessible than his terrific 2009 release Trouble and Mercy (wrote about it here). I was happy to see that Cam himself feels the same way when he stated:
“Gypsy Summer is a rich contrast to the defiant stripped down sensibilities of 2009′s Trouble & Mercy. It is a more personal affair…almost confessional. With Gypsy Summer, Cam continues to successfully roam from his comfort zone.”
The song “Driftwood” repeats the mantra “It’s going to get worse, It’s going to get better.” It’s that mix of the negative and the positive that I hear in the slightly melancholy and at times uplifting musical accompaniment on “Driftwood”. This song and I expect others on the record are more fleshed out than previous work, giving Cam a wider tablet of colors and textures to work with.
The new record can be purchased here through CDBaby.
I’ve been checking out the moody americana rock of Mount Moriah. The band’s self titled debut record is due out April 12 on Holiday for Quince Records. The band is from North Carolina and seems to relish it’s connection to rural America. Yet on record the band is not simply acting out some retro fantasy or worse yet becoming some kind of mealy mouthed freak folk outfit (even if the beard suggests otherwise). In fact I hear much more Rilo Kiley in the lead singer’s vocals than say Gilian Welch. And musically the guitars are stiff, the keyboards awash in reverb, and the drumming taught.
Here’s the song “Lament” and below that the video for the song “Old Gowns”.
I like the concept of Hoots & Hellmouth almost more than I do their music. The band is deeply rooted in a number of interesting causes most notably the Farm To Table movement. Even their new EP’s title, Face First In The Dirt, alludes to this. I like that on the song “Picked By The Root” I’m reminded as much of Morrissey as I am of some old timey legend. I would say that Hoots & Hellmouth has more in common with a band like The Decemberists than a rootsy band like Chatham County Line.
Anyway check out this song from the new ep and catch the band playing West Coast dates with Ha Ha Tonka now.
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.