Archive for June, 2011

Austin Basham – “Little Foxes”

Thursday, June 30th, 2011

Here’s a little something from a singer-songwriter named Austin Basham and his new ep Little Foxes. “Oh” is an odd combination of indie folk with banjo, horns, and a bunch of lyrical ideas floating about. Shows promise though.

Oh!

New record from Gabriel Gandzjuk – “Invisible Lion” (4th Street Records, June 14)

Tuesday, June 28th, 2011

Gabriel Gandzjuk is probably not a stage name. I’ve read Gabriel’s bio and I don’t have a sense of where his family is from but with a name like that and songs like these it’s hard not to hear a bit of European influence in his jazzy folk tunes. His main instrument and the most compelling artifact on his new record Invisible Lion (4th Street Records) is his silky smooth voice. You’ll hear what you like in his vocals, but I heard Tom Brousseau, Steve Forbert, and a little Brett Dennen.

Invisible Lion is available through Bandcamp here; sign up for his mailing list to be informed of upcoming gigs and such.

Invisible Lion

New 7″ from St. Louis based The Union Electric

Monday, June 27th, 2011

What if we could combine the best of The Pogues with early Uncle Tupelo and throw a bit of Flaming Lips in for good measure, is that something you might be interested in? (spoken like Bob Ryan – Martion Landeau’s character on Entourage). I’d never heard of the St. Louis based band The Union Electric until I stumbled on their new 7″ Tunnels/An Irish Orphan. I know that bands can slip though the cracks with so much noise out there but this band shouldn’t be one of them. On this ep they serve up literate songs based in the folk tradition but filtered through indie rock and punk.

I love both of the songs from this 7″. I heartily recommend you get it here now.

An Irish Orphan

New music from Ed Laurie’s upcoming release “Cathedral”

Thursday, June 23rd, 2011

Oh God I hope Ed Laurie doesn’t read this. He must be so over the Leonard Cohen comparisons. But it’s not just Ed Laurie’s voice that reminds me of Leonard Cohen but it’s his choice of words, his delivery, and his orchestration. He’s got the backing chorus, soaring vocals, and a bit of the pretension of old man Cohen. What sets him apart from Leonard Cohen and the bulk of other singer-songwriters are his European influences, his classical and Spanish guitar styles and his individuality.

Ed Laurie’s upcoming record is called Cathedral. I don’t think it was recorded in one but the songs do have a grandiose and spatial sound as if recorded in one of England’s grandest cathedrals. As an early reviewer said:

Ed Laurie, who recorded his new album Cathedral live on a stage, complete with real guitars, strings, percussion, and the sound of breathing. Real musicians playing real instruments in a real environment, with lots of gaps and fades. This is not jackbooted music with a mechanical rhythm track. It’s all real, and it is exhilarating to listen to. This is music that seeps into you, permeates you, gently, almost hazily. Like a dream, it wants to offer you endless possibilities.

Spirit of the Stairway

“Moment Out of Faith” video from Cathedral

Seattle roots music from Darren Smith and his new album “Boomtown”.

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

I’m tired. As a result of ignoring my bloated inbox, only searching out artists that fit my niche, as well as constantly striving to present new music I’m a little burned out. It’d be so much easier to cut and paste all the press releases and mp3′s that fill my inbox (and that’s after I’ve unsubscribed to nearly every newsletter and pr company). But where’s the challenge in that, where’s the thrill of discovery? For whatever reason for me the search is part of the fun. I guess in part because I’m not the best writer and feel that the music has to be special and stand on its own.

So the discovery and then unearthing of the new record from Darren Smith (from Seattle and previously the band Last Drive) was fun. His brand of punchy alt-country, folk and/or roots music is right up my alley. I have chosen to share the most subdued track on the album (it was buried at the end of the cd), but if you explore the rest of his music you’ll find an artist that straddles these multiple worlds. Of all the recent releases I’ve heard this one most reminds me of Doug Paisley’s masterpiece Constant Companion.

Darren has his record release show with S:I fave Rachel Harrington on June 26 at the Tractor Tavern in Seattle. It should be a fine night of music. Buy the new record here or here.

Santa Fe

Power pop from ex Flying Pig leader PJ O’Connell (feat. members of NRBQ)

Monday, June 20th, 2011

You can’t go too wrong when you have half of NRBQ as your backing band. And you can’t help but make buoyant power pop when you’ve been described as “Jerry Lee Lewis joining Big Star”. Doesn’t hurt either when your delivery is one part Elvis Costello and one part Graham Parker. All of this serves as an introduction to the new record from former Flying Pigs leader P.J. O’connell.

His new record Join The Crowd was just released and is available here. Here’s a jaunty song (yet with crunchy guitars) called “Shall We”.

Shall We

Songs:Illinois Android App Released

Monday, June 20th, 2011

Songs:Illinois has now gone mobile! Go here to get an app for your phone.

It’s free and it has alerts so that you’ll know whenever Songs:Illinois has anything new. What could be better?

Brighton folk from Fiona Sally Miller (riyl Laura Marling)

Thursday, June 16th, 2011

Fiona Sally Miller is a singer songwriter from Brighton, England who successfully straddles the worlds of folk and indie in much the same way Laura Marling and Mumford and Sons have been able to do. Her debut EP is called Out Of The Woods And Into The Trees.

“Not Sure” features her sterling vocals, sensitive guitar and some truly wonderful one-liners (“it’s taken 8 years to get this far, I can think of you and not the scar”). The entire ep is a free download via Bandcamp here.

Not Sure

Two new songs from Athens roots artist Dan Auber

Wednesday, June 15th, 2011

Is Don Auber one of the most promising unsigned roots artists in the country? I don’t know. Could be. I can’t think of many other young artists who have with such a wealth and breadth of material. On his debut EP Big Fish Don creates songs that could double as historical fiction or as a PHD thesis in southern culture.

Don is working on his full length debut. It’s going to be called Appalachian Heart and on it we will hear a more fuller sound with the addition of fiddle, banjo, harmonicas and guitars. I for one am looking forward to it. I initially reviewed the free 5 song EP Big Fish back in January. I’m revisiting it now because Don has added two bonus tracks. I like the carnival barker vocals of “August 12, 1978″. Get the whole thing here.

August 12, 1978

Ben Fisher – “Heavy Boots and Underwoods”

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Ben Fisher is a young singer-songwriter from Seattle who you are more apt to see busking on the street than playing in a club. He clearly is still developing his style and sound. The budget for this recording is probably what got thrown into his empty guitar case. But still there is something here. You can purchase his debut Heavy Boots and Underwoods here via Bandcamp.

Thunderbird

New duets album from Don Dixon and Marti Jones

Friday, June 10th, 2011

According to Don Dixon he and wife Marti Jones have only recorded a handful of duets over the past 25 years. They solve that problem with the release of their first duets record called Living Stereo. If you came of age in the 80′s then you know who both Don Dixon and Marti Jones are. If not look `em up.

Purchase the new record here via Amazon.

Trouble Is As Trouble Does

Rod Picott – “Welding Burns” (June 7)

Thursday, June 9th, 2011

What are the chances two acclaimed singer songwriters would both come out of rural Maine at the same time? And that they would be childhood friends and later collaborators and co-songwriters on some of the best americana songs of the decade. That’s the case with Slaid Cleaves and Rod Picott.

“Welding Burns” is the title track off of Rod’s upcoming record and not surprisingly it sounds a bit like a Slaid Cleaves song. Musically though Rod mixes it up with crisp drums, guitar, banjo and fiddle (from Amanda Shires). Rod has become known as a “working class” songwriter, as someone who can accurately detail that life since he lived it himself as the son of a welder in the Maine ship yards. You can hear all of that and more in the song “Welding Burns”. Buy the full album here via Village Records.

Welding Burns

P.S. The roots music blog A Fifty Cent Lighter & A Whiskey Buzz has a fine review and another song from the album here.

New music from Norma MacDonald – “Morning You Wake”

Tuesday, June 7th, 2011

I write about a lot of dudes. I’d guess 90% of my posts are about male sing-songwriters and/or their bands. Besides the fact that males still dominate the music business I think I also have a higher standard for women singers. First off I’m particular about the songs; as a guy I’m not that interested in a generic song about a broken relationship or an overly emotional tale of betrayal and woe. On the other hand I’m not looking for flowery, poetry-laden songs. I think these two styles are chasms that women singer-songwriters often fall into.

“Cordelia” is taken from Norma MacDonald’s new record Morning You Wake. It features an accordion that gives the track a certain somber feeling and Norma’s pleading vocals (and her overdubbed harmony parts). Her music is made for mass consumption; it’s well produced, accessible and easy to like. As she says in her bio “her sound mixes the sincerity and grit of car stereo old-country with the polish and sophistication of satellite radio North-Americana.”

You can buy the new record here.

Cordelia

PS There is a much better writeup as well as another song to sample here via Herohill.

The Black Swans – “Don’t Blame The Stars” (Misra, May 31)

Monday, June 6th, 2011

The new record by the Texas based band The Black Swans should be getting more attention than it has so far. Don’t Blame The Stars is the followup to a successful debut, it came out on May 31 on Misra. Perhaps one reason it is currently underappreciated is its unassuming demeanor. The songs are by and large slow weepers. As I listened I was constantly waiting for the high energy rocker. Well it never came and I’m fine with that.

“Mean Medicine” has the attitude and the guitars, but instead of barreling ahead in 4/4 time it creeps along in slow motion. Order the new record here.

Mean Medicine

There are two excellent feature pieces up on the band at Aquarium Drunkard and Muzzles of Bees.

Scott Pryor & The Common Sinners – “If We Set Out Now” (June 21)

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

When I think Philadelphia and folk music I immediately think Birdie Busch. I wonder if Scott Pryor is a friend of hers. In addition to the fact that they share a common city their music has a similar feel. It’s not traditional folk but it is rooted in folk. Both have a fuller sound, bigger bands, and a lyricism that is both good storytelling and catchy as all get out.

“Gasoline Love” is a new song off of Scott Pryor & The Common Sinners upcoming 5 song EP If We Set Out Now. It’s a tale of working class love and devotion and features a duet with Emma Morrow. The new EP can be purchased here. Check with your Philly connections or Scott’s website for more info on the June 24th record release show.

Gasoline Love

Dan Israel – “Crosstown Traveller”

Thursday, June 2nd, 2011

Dan Israel loves the music of the 60′s and 70′s but he makes music more akin to the mid-western rock circa 1986. While his bio sites Elvis Costello, Randy Newman and Tom Petty, I hear shades of Freddy Johnston, Matthew Sweet and even the Smithereens. Dan has admittedly been toiling away in obscurity despite generous and glowing press from the likes of No Depression and his fellow singer-songwriters; this is his 11th solo record. He kind of hates his job, has a family to deal with, and is going through all the same trying-to-make-the-paycheck stretch issues we are all dealing with.

His music is not cool and he knows it. Show him you’re not cool too by buying his new record here, here, or here. Also available locally at Electric Fetus in Minneapolis.

Seaweeds Blues

Bonus

No Closer To Home