Archive for March, 2012

New record from Caleb Groh – “Bottomless Coffee”

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

I think somewhere along the way Caleb Groh grew up on me. He was 16 when he released his first record as Happiest Lion. Since then he has released a number of records including two collections of Christmas songs. But something is different about Caleb Groh (it’s not just the big scruffy beard) and the new record Bottomless Coffee. For starters the record has a full band (guitar, bass, drums, pedal steel, piano) and a dynamic sound (especially on the track “Smitten”), arrangements are more complicated now matching the maturity of Caleb’s poetic lyrics. And I’d even go as far as to say that Caleb’s voice has matured as well. It has filled out (like his beard). With that said there is still a mix of songs ranging from piano ballads to folk to angular rock (again “Smitten”). I wrote about the first single “Catastrophic Culprit” a couple of months ago and you should really click this link to hear it.

Here’s “Smitten” from Bottomless Coffee. Buy it here via Bandcamp ($5 for the digital copy) or iTunes here.

Smitten

Video from “Hapless Dreamer” also from the new record

New music from Martin Zellar and The Hardways plus a little reminicsing about The Gear Daddies

Wednesday, March 14th, 2012

I’m not going to sit here and give you the whole rundown on Martin Zellar. Yes, he was the main man behind the late 80′s group The Gear Daddies. Yes, he has since had a long and productive solo career. The thing is that while those early songs by The Gear Daddies may have aged somewhat they still hold a place near and dear to my heart. As does Martin Zellar and his current band The Hardways.

There’s a new album that came out in February called Roosters Crow. “Running On Fear” from it does a good job of spotlighting Martin Zellar’s vocals and putting them in a lyrical context that works (mainly a resigned anger). I’ve also included a song off the debut record Let’s Go Scare Al called “Statue Of Jesus” – it’s the song that initially stopped me dead in my tracks 25 years ago. You can order this record and in fact any of the band’s records at their website here.

Running On Fear

Statue Of Jesus

Gear Daddies performing “Stupid Boy” on Letterman

“Time Heals” with vocals by drummer Billy Dankert

Peter Mulvey covers Randy Newman from new EP “Chaser” (March 27) – Record Release show Thursday, March 16 at Schubas

Tuesday, March 13th, 2012

Songs:Illinois favorite and former “S:I House Concert Series” performer Peter Mulvey has a new album and a companion EP out at the end of March. These are a slight departure as they are both cover records. The lp has songs written by Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, Jolie Holland, Chris Smither and Duke Ellington. The companion EP is called Chaser.

Here’s “It’s Lonely At The Top” by Randy Newman from Chaser. Peter Mulvey’s record release show is this Thursday at Schubas in Chicago – he’ll have both records for sale at the show.

It’s Lonely At The Top

Neal Casal – “Sweeten The Distance” (Royal Potato Records, April )

Monday, March 12th, 2012

I’ve done a bunch of Neal Casal posts, which is weird since I don’t really have the normal connection with Neal that most music fans do. See Neal is best known as Ryan Adam’s guitarist for seven years. But my connection to him came probably fifteen years ago when I stumbled on his debut solo record Fade Away Diamond Time at Restless Records in Chicago. At the time Mathew Sweet was huge and Neal Casal was playing in a similar power pop style but with a little more of an easy going California vibe. I’ve been following his career ever since. His new record Sweeten the Distance is out in April on Royal Potato Records.

Sweeten The Distance

“Need Shelter” video

Honky-Tonk Friday combined with a SXSW preview of the Austin band Mike and the Moonpies

Friday, March 9th, 2012

I’m not sure if every Mike and The Moonpies song revolves around drinking whiskey and playing country music but I’m willing to guess it’s a pretty high percentage. This Austin based band of long hairs has just released a four song EP and will be playing SXSW. They are playing at least 5 different gigs but I’m going to catch `em at Hoedown at the Highball on March 17 at 3pm.

Tape Machine

Bonus song

El Camino

Rose Cousins – “We Have Made A Spark”

Thursday, March 8th, 2012

Rose Cousins has a new record out now called We Have Made A Spark. I tweeted about a video she put together on the recording process a couple of weeks back. She recorded the album with a community of musicians in Boston (depite her Canadian rooots) including Songs:Illinois favorites like Rose Polenzani, Mark Erelli, & Kris Delmhorst. The results are pretty spectacular. Here’s one song off the new record; it’s rather bare but Rose’s voice is so strong it could probaly work a cappella.

The Darkness

New music from Vancouver based The Ruffled Feathers – “Oracle” (April 3)

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

This music from Vancouver based Ruffled Feathers is a little too catchy for Songs:Illinois. But if that’s the only complaint I can register that’s pretty good, right? Besides lead vocals by Gina Loes, one of the key elements the band uses is an assortment of instruments to create a layered and unsubtle type of indie folk. I’m a sucker for trumpet in my music and both songs below from the forthcoming debut lp Oracles delivers that in spades.

You can preorder the new record here.

Mockingbird
Rooftop Garden

“No Depression” by Pine Hill Haints via “America Salutes The Carter Family”

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

Here’s a strange little collectible via K Records in Olympia. It’s a cassette only tribute to the Carter Family called America Salutes The Carter Family. All the songs were recorded live with a portable cassette recorder giving the whole thing an archival feel that suits these songs. I don’t have any downloads for this project but below are a couple streams courtesy of the Bandcamp page for this project – lots more info there.