What is it about Florida these days that inspires record titles. Besides this new record Florizona from The Silos there is Celebration, Florida by The Felice Brothers. There must be something about the Florida experience that both inspires and dismays.
Well look, you either love The Silos ( and indirectly Walter Salas Humara) or you don’t. You either love ragged roots rock or you don’t. You either love his voice or you don’t. I’ve been there since the beginning lineup of The Silos (with Bob Rupe) and have more or less stayed over the last 10 studio albums and solo projects. The new record is self-released and I haven’t heard the whole thing yet. But from sampling songs on the band’s website and listening to this song all morning I think it’s another good one. Lotsa merch including the new record here.
Dave Alvin is fast approaching the age where the combination of wisdom, talent, and an aging voice all combine to give his music a gravitas it may have not always had. Dave Alvin’s new record Eleven Eleven is due out on June 21. Dave’s website has a prominent quote on the front page:
“There are two types of folk music: quiet folk music and loud folk music. I play both.”
From his work with the Blasters to his modern folk tales to his work with his backing band The Guilty Me (and more recently The Guilty Women) he has successfully straddled the worlds of folk, rock, and country. I imagine this new record will be no different. In fact the first song off it reminds one of early rock a la Bo Diddly. Here is “Run Conejo Run” from Eleven Eleven. It’s a song about a young man trying to outrun his past and his origins.
Alright, this song from the Toronto based folk rock group Graydon James & The Young Novelists may be a little too epic for Songs:Illinois. This is from the band’s new EP A Small Town Eulogy. I like the nature of the piano and guitar based music as well as the strong vocals and vocal harmonies. The band has won accolades and awards in their native Canada but are all but unknown in the lower 48′s.
Town Mountain is a young bluegrass-y band who travel and tour extensively. They’ve been off and on tour for the past five years. Their new album is coming out in May on the respected Bluegrass label Pinecastle. Not being an expert on bluegrass I’m not exactly sure if they depart at all from the traditional sounds of the genre. But their youth and their songwriting clearly gives them a different perspective in a genre dominated by aging stars.
The new record is called Steady Operator and its got a May 10 release date. “Midnight Road” is a “tired-of-life-on-the-road” type song. And I know some folks are sick and tired with songs about life on the road and the hardships that go along with it. But I for am still intrigued by life on the road.
Don’t ask me how or why I love Ramsay Midwood. I can’t tell you when or how I heard his music first. But it’s been a bizarre love affair since first listen. Ramsay is known, if at all, for his 2000 debut record Shootout at the OK Chinese Restaurant. It was released in Germany first by Glitterhouse and eventually got a re-release in the states by Vanguard. That re-release is one of the few times when a record label released a record solely for it’s artistic merit and without a care for it’s commercial appeal. Of course it tanked…gloriously. If you can get your hands on that Ramsay record or its followup Popular Delusions & The Madness Of Cows consider yourself lucky.
Like the artists he reminds me of (JJ Cale, Leon Redbone et al), Ramsay will never be a household name, but I hope he keeps popping up here and there, now and again.
Here’s a track from his forthcoming record Larry Buys A Lighter. It’s a classic Ramsay tune about New Orleans, bean pods and of course “loopers” with infectious blues guitar, distorted harmonica and one hell of a groove.
I gave up writing for hits, traffic, and fame and fortune a long time ago. My posts now are like shimmering ghosts that elude Google searches like Derrick Rose shedding defenders on the way to the rim (obv. a little too excited about the Bulls). Despite his obvious talent and gumption (a double release for a debut!) this post about Austin singer songwriter Chase Weinacht is not going to soar up the Hype Machine charts, nor is not going to be linked to by Gorilla Vs. Bear, Stereogum, or even some of my close cyber compadres. This post won’t make or break his career or mine for that matter.
I’m fine with that. People still come here and still continue to check out the music I get excited about. And I’m excited about Chase Weinacht. Partly that’s due to the daunting nature of his debut release which is actually two separate records. They go by the titles Here Cinema and Moon Country and can be downloaded here via Bandcamp. As you can imagine from my setup they’re pretty lofi – just guitar and vocals on most tracks. The genre this release fits into would probably be indie folk. And there is some of that pretension on here that comes with that label. But by and large the songs, and there are 23 of them, stand up to repeat listens, in fact they demand it.
Chase’s voice is rich throughout, even as it wavers and strains to hit the appropriate notes. The songs though are what’s important. Here’s a song from each release. On “(A Scene Through) Cellophane” (from Here Cinema) I hear a bit of Frontier Ruckus’ stream of conscious wordplay minus the oft frantic musical accompaniment. I love the finger picked acoustic guitar on here and I love the fact that the song is deeper and more profound than can be absorbed on one listen. “Magnolia, Magnolia” from Moon Country is simpler and more rambunctious. It’s a song about nature and the glories found within.
Look, I don’t know how else to say it except that I’m as excited about the music of Chase Weinacht as I was when I first heard Sufjan Stevens or Clem Snide or Tom Brousseau. I look forward to following his ups and downs.
If you came of age in the early nineties like I did, you’d be hardpressed not to be a fan of powerpop. At the time Matthew Sweet’s Girlfriend, The Posies Frosting on the Beater and any number of records from The Smithereens were all commercial and critical hits. I’ve never really lost that love for tight, concise pop. Nik Freitas is one of the modern day practitioners of power pop or you might want to call it perfect pop.
Nik’s new record is called Saturday Night Underwater. It’s due for a June release on The Little Record Company. The title track bounces along in fits and starts. The jangly guitars are joined by tinkling keys, shimmering guitar solos and pulsing drums. Nik Freitas recently came off a successful tour with S:I fave Joe Pug. He’s currently on tour with The Submarines; that show comes to Chicago on April 20 at Schubas.
I’m very excited about the new record from Swedish folk artist Tim Schmidt. The record is called YaYa River and comes out on Thanks For The Postcard on April 26. His voice (a cross between Dylan, Drake, and Jeff Buckley) is well suited to his fingerpicked guitar style. His songs are mostly unadorned acoustic guitar and voice. His English with just an ever so slight Swedish accent makes his vocals sound slightly exotic or romantic. The songs themselves are wonderfully simple; they’re often tales of love, obsession and devotion.
There is a lot more info on the two sites linked to above. You can pre-order the new record now here.
Here’s my thought process for selecting this song to share: “hey those guys look cool”, “love the band name”, “oh I like that font”, “whoa they’re from Austin, I was just in Austin”, and “I wonder where he got that mullet”.
So here’s “Shawnee Drive” off the new record from Church Shoes. If you care about album production, quality sound, mic setups, distortion free recordings, and the drums being in the right place in the mix, or if you like your rock and roll to sound like the the Foo Fighters or Kings of Leon than please don’t listen and go away and never come back.
The first time I heard Canadian Nick Everett’s songs I thought “whoa these are perfect”. Now Nick has a new project out and while the songs no longer sound perfect they are compelling nonetheless. This song is from a split ep released with the band Poplar Pines. I guess these songs were recorded at Rocky Top farm. The production is decidely lofi (I assume on purpose), the songs have a bunch of strange sounds embedded, occasional feedback, and the vocals are a little reverby.
In my first review I mentioned Luke Temple. And I will again in this one. Luke Temple went from playing pristine indie folk to something entirely different when he formed the band Here We Go Magic. In that case I didn’t like the change (although most people did and Here We Go Magic took off in a way that Luke never would have as a solo project). At least for now it seems Nick Everett has gone through a similar metamorphosis.
A good example of the change in Nick Everett is the song “Liar” with it’s feedback intro, electric guitar, epic screamo vocals, and odd percussion. Taken as a whole all these disparate elements come and are together held together by Nick’s songwriting and his singing. You can buy the spilt EP here via Bandcamp for a name your own price.
Well, it’s official. Zoe Muth is the real deal. Her debut record hinted at it but you just never know, that record could have been a fluke. Zoe’s new record Starlight Hotel comes out April 19 on Signature Sounds and it’s no fluke.
The record cover hints at some of the new directions Zoe is capable of moving in. Do you notice that Mexican wrestler hangin’ in bed? Well that seems like a foreshadowing of the mariachi horns that adorn the first track “I’ve Been Gone”. Besides some of these new directions the record’s tempo also seems a bit faster, the band a bit tighter, and Zoe more confident on her vocals. The songs remain the same though: honky-tonk weepers and bad boy blues.
Here’s the song with the longest title on the record “If I Can’t Trust You With A Quarter (How Can I Trust You With My Heart?)”. It’s a little honky-tonk ditty about a fella whose bad choice at the jukebox dooms any chances he has with the heroine. Buy the new record here.
I have a tendency to want to write about music early. Preferably weeks before it is available. Honestly it’s a trait I’m not that proud of but coming from the music industry this is something that was encouraged and facilitated. However in all honesty I do like being the first to write about a band. Sometimes though a record stews and gets replayed and absorbed over time. Danny Schmidt’s record Man Of Many Moons is one such record. I’ve had it for awhile and knew I wanted to share it with from the day I first received it. It’s been on repeat for what seems like months yet for the average reader or listener this is a new release. And one that you maybe haven’t heard of yet.
Man of Many Moons is the second release of Danny’s to come out on Red House Records. Unlike his debut for the label this record is a stripped down affair. It’s just Danny’s distinctive voice accompanied by his amazing fretwork. But voice and guitar are simply Danny Schmidt’s tools for the songs that he writes. They are the structure that he has adopted for his words. He could have as easily picked short stories, prose, or novels as a creative outlet for his art. I for one am glad he chose music.
There are many notable songs on the new record. I love the fact that two of the songs are related. In this case sequels. “Guilty by Association Blues” is a song that deals with Danny’s thoughts on how the world works, while the sequel “Almost Around The World” deals with the consequences in the real world of the previous song. “Two Guitars” is a song based on a letter Danny wrote to friend and Songs:Illinois fave Paul Curreri about their career choices. The title track (as Carrie Elkin explains) is about Danny’s moody times. All are beautiful, well written, and thoughtful songs. But I’m going to share with you a song called “Houses Sing” that has already inspired other singers to cover it and plan to place it on future releases. Danny says this song is about his time spent house hunting and “how much dust a single stationary structure can stir up inside you”. It’s a nostalgic song that at the same time stirs many thoughts of an uncertain future, but hopefully a future filled with laughter, friendship, and family (and music).
I encourage you from the depths of my music loving soul to pick up this new record from Danny Schmidt then go and get the back catalog and then see the man live. Oh and tell him I said hello.
Buy Man of Many Moonshere though Danny Schmidt’s site.
Until today I’ve successfully ignored all the emails about Brian Wright’s new record on New West. And I’d like to make it clear I haven’t succumbed to the pressure. The fact is I met a Houstonite at SXSW who was a big fan of Brian’s and thought he was going to be the next big thing (“big thing” in relative terms – say Justin Townes Earle or Hayes Carll).
On first listen the record the record is more eclectic than you might expect. There are odd bits of conversation, unusual vocals, an assortment of instruments (Brian played all of them) and a mix of sounds from one song to the next. For me it’s the simpler songs, unadorned except for guitar and voice, that strike a chord. In particular, “Maria Sugarcane”, with it’s tale of two brothers and their Cain/Able like relationship between them, their love of the same women and the tragic outcome that hits home the most.
No time for a proper post. But very excited to hear about this new Diana Jones record High Atmosphere. Click on the links for lots more info on this one and watch the epk below about the recording and the ethos of the album. Order it here.
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.