Archive for December, 2011

Snake Wagon (aka Barr Brothers meet The Low Anthem) – “Those Lesbian Blues”

Thursday, December 22nd, 2011

Snake Wagon’s bio is much like their music. Half funny, half serious. The problem is that in both cases it’s hard to figure out which half is which. As far as I can tell the band is composed of members of The Barr Brothers and maybe a couple of the guys from The Low Anthem. The record is called Have Fun With Snake Wagon. Here’s a few excerpts from various bios:

“What is Snake Wagon, again? A bunch of jokesters, pranksters, parodists, specialty obscurantist antique humorists, and satirical ironical songsmiths who blasted the sheet rock off the Pasta Sauce Factory walls in a quick, but fruitful, session last year.”

“Born out of twistedness and raised in revelation, the band takes its love of Christmas Caroling, Wall Drug, South Dakota, and Chinese astronomy, and transforms it daily into a truly unique and innovative sound that recalls early Motorhead having a coffee, no cream, with Linda McCartney. As the son of a Wal-Mart Greeter and Youngstown’s first female chair of the Libertarian Committee, Thom Jefferson, along with his childhood friend/violinist Ulf Zarkanius, rebelled against their fore-bearers and formed Snake Wagon in 1985, as a vehicle to spread their anarchistic belief system. In 1986, Daniel Johnston notably stated, “They’re alright.””

“Snake Wagon is a virus. H14D2S. It came originally from Africa, and is poised to take over all living bodies in a post-DNA era. symptoms of arrest: trance, anxiety, prophylactic shock, reptilian ancestral awareness, defamation of character, certitude, unabashed desire to replicate.”

You’ll draw your own conclusions but I imagine you’ll hear a bit of Daniel Johnston, a little of the wacky solo stuff of Alex Chilton, and a fair share of whatever 60′s era garage psychedelia you became infatuated with in your early twenties. The record is available free via Bandcamp here.

Those Lesbian Blues [Download]

Charlie Parr – “Keep Your Hands On The Plow” (with guests Low)

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011

I asked Charlie Parr’s people (yes, he has people!!) for a song from his new record. I haven’t heard a lick of it but told them to send any song they wished. Why? Because at this point any song by Charlie Parr is better than almost anything out there.

The “new” record is produced in acssociation with House of Mercy baptist church in St Paul, Minn. and and features Emily Parr, Four Mile Portage, Alan Sparhawk and Mimi Parker. It was recorded at Sacred Heart Music Center in Duluth on 2″ tape by Tom Herbers and will be released on both cd and vinyl. “Gospel Plow is the title track and is notable for both Charlie’s guitar playing and the call and response gospel vocals of him and the choir. Buy the new record here via Charlie Parr’s website.

Gospel Plow [Download]

Bonus, a live song from a solo appearance of Charlie’s:

Jesus On The Main Line [Download]

**Best of 2011 Repost Series** – Mount Moriah

Monday, December 19th, 2011

It’s very rare that I write about an artist that is also then written about by other blogs. I’m a bit of an island in that sense. But with Mount Moriah my review was quickly followed up by lots of praise in the music blogosphere. Here’s what I wrote back in March:

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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”.

Lament [Download]

Mount Moriah “Old Gowns” from Hueism Pictures on Vimeo.

New song from Caleb Groh (of Happiest Lion fame)

Friday, December 16th, 2011

While I was poking around looking for new Christmas tunes I thought I’d check in on Caleb Groh who released some of my favorite Christmas music of the last couple years and see if he had added a vol. 3 to his carol collection (Vol. 1 and Vol.2 can be found for free here). No such luck but I did notice on his Facebook that The Boston Phoenix released a new song from his forthcoming record Bottomless Coffee. It’s the full band rocker “Catastrophic Culprit”.

I believe Caleb (along with Jeff Pianki, Nathan K, and a few of their mutual friends) is on the cusp of being the next generation of artists to achieve success along the lines of Bright Eyes, Sufjan Stevens, Jens Lekman, etc.

Catastrophic Culprit (Via The Boston Phoenix [Download]
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Graham Weber’s new record “Women” (feat. BettySoo, Carrie Rodriguez, Dana Falconberry)

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

This is a great song off the new album from Austin based singer-songwriter Graham Weber. Graham is a favorite of much more well know Austin singer-songwriters (including Slaid Cleaves who took him under his wing and also recorded one of his songs). In his short time in Austin he’s gone from being the opener to being a headliner (I saw him MC a show at the cactus cafe at SXSW one year). His new record is called Women. I guess it’s in part a celebration and also a condemnation of that word. Graham was going through tough relationship times when he wrote and recorded the songs but also he has enlisted a treasure trove of Austin women to sing on it (Carrie Rodriguez, Amanda Shires, BettySoo, Dana Falconberry, Bonnie Whitmore, Leslie Stevens). I’ve written about Graham here and here.

I asked Graham if I could share the song “Lander, WY.” It’s a gentle song about running from your problems. Pre-order Women by contacting Graham (women@grahamweber.com) or via Bandcamp here.

Lander, WY. [Download]

Bonus songs:

Baltimore (Demo) (Via AustinSound [Download]
)
Candles So Close [Download]

PS If you won’t take my word on it check out this review of Women in the Austin Chronicle.

Video for “Unrequited Love”

NATIVE SESSIONS: Graham Weber performs “Unrequited Love” from STUCK Productions on Vimeo.

Roy Davis’ new project – The Coloradas (bluegrass meets americana with really great songs)

Wednesday, December 14th, 2011

Alright so yesterday I lied. I said we were going to get on with the best of 2011 type posts. But it turns out that with a little searching around the net I’ve found two more releases to feature this week. Great ones too by the way. The first is the Roy Davies project called The Coloradas. I wrote about Roy Davies here and here and am a big fan of his music.

The Coloradas are Roy Davis and Bernie Nye. They successfully combine bluegrass with americana. I know you’ll love this – contact the band (roygoodale (@) yahoo.com) to purchase their new record. “Misery” is a standout track that while rather miserable lyrically is jaunty and bouncy and it’ll have you singing along and tapping your toe in no time.

Misery [Download]

**Best of 2011 Repost Series** – Malcolm Holcombe

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

It’s that time of year again. The time of year when new releases dry up and we’ve got to look back and think about the year gone by. I never make a list but I will repost some of my favorites in no particular order.

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I know there’s a lot of music out there. Lots of different genre’s, sub genre’s, and micro sub genre’s. I know we’re all inundated with pr mailings, email submission requests and a stack of cds to plow through. And then we have our favorites that we champion. I have mine and you have yours. But I can’t believe there’s not more consensus on the music of Malcolm Holcombe. The guy is a major talent. Blogs like Nine Bullets, Herohill, Slowcoustic, Here Comes The Flood, and You Crazy Dreamers have all sung his praises and while that’s great I’d like think he could get out of our little rootsy music blog grotto.

Part of the blame rests at the feet of his label that although small, should have the resources to reach out to the music blogs and I think part of the blame rests at the feet of the premier music blog sites who are not open to blues and folk based music (unless it comes in a pre-approved hipster wrapper – Bon Iver, The Tallest Man On Earth). The new record Drink The Rain doesn’t break any new ground. The same could be said for nearly every classic record by Guy Clark, Greg Brown, John Prine, or Ray Willie Hubbard and like those artists Malcolm Holcombe has his own distinctive sound that combines amazing songwriting, a gutteral vocal delivery and a mastery of blues and folk based idioms.

I could link to any of the 12 song on the new record and you’d get my drift. But I think “One Man Singing” expresses some of the feelings I have about the artists we follow and love.

One Man Singin’ [Download]

Mike Nicolai’s full catalog available now on Bandcamp

Thursday, December 8th, 2011

I had a couple new things I could write about but nothing struck me as much or as hard as the old stuff from Mike Nicolai. I’ve written about Mike once or twice in the past but as one of the great undiscovered songwriters in the country it won’t hurt to revisit his catalog. Speaking of which Nicolai’s catalog is hard to get a finger on – it shifts wildly from twisted folk to power pop to the occasional hard rocker (in fact the band Grand Champeen often backed up Mike Nicolai).

Mike Nicolai’s solo catalog consists of four full length records released between 2001 and 2005. I have one song from each and a link where you can buy each one on Bandcamp. These are well out of print so this is a good chance to discover or rediscover the work of one of the country’s best songwriters.

The Depths from God Fatigue in the Post Atom Age [Download]

Killer Ann from Rooster Nudes [Download]

I’m On To You from Woody Allen Stunt Footage [Download]

Bonus Christmas song from Mike Nicolai (one of my favorite Christmas songs – seriously)

Christmas Is For Losers [Download]

New record from Austin legend Ramsay Midwood – “Larry Buys A Lighter”

Monday, December 5th, 2011

There are only a couple people I am irrationally infatuated with. Ramsay Midwood is at the top of that short list. He’s got a new record out now (probably his fourth or so). Of course it’s called Larry Buys A Lighter (how could it be called anything else?). This record continues the pattern of previous efforts and is a combination of folk, americana, southern gospel, with JJ Cale like guitar picking and a stream of consciousness lyrical style reminiscent of no one.

Here’s “Loopers” from the new record. Buy the whole thing here. You can see Ramsay when he plays his almost weekly shows at Sam’s Town Point in Austin or on Dec. 10 at Poodie’s in Spicewood, Tx.

Loopers [Download]

Honky-Tonk Friday from Twin Cities based The Cactus Blossoms

Friday, December 2nd, 2011

I’ve been sitting on this song for a couple days now, patiently waiting `til honky-tonk Friday when I could post it. This is off the debut album from Minneapolis based country band The Cactus Blossoms. These guys have folks in the band that have played with The Jayhawks and The Gear Daddies and the record was produced by Brent Sigmeth (Haley Bonar, Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, The Bad Plus). But the essence of the band is comprised of two brothers who have absorbed plenty of old 78′s and the entirety of The Anthology of American Folk Music. Influences certainly include Buddy Holly and the Everly Brothers as well as any/every classic country duo group. You can hear all of these influences on “Lonesome and Blue” as well as some great interplay between the band members. The fiddle, pedal steel and standup bass in particular are stellar.

The band’s self titled debut record is available as either a cd or a download for $10 via Bandcamp. It’s a no brainer if you are a fan of any of the artists I mentioned above.

Catch the band Dec. 7 at Aster Cafe.

Lonesome and Blue [Download]