Mike Farris and friends have put together a charity ep with proceeds going to the victims of the Nashville flood. This song and the ep features some great musicianship including people like Sam Bush, Kenny Vaughn, and Gill Landry.
P.S. I have recently started a new venture so the posts on songs:Illinois may get even shorter, but I don’t expect any lapse in quality. Thanks for reading, writing, and listening to me for the past six years.
Two very quick items today. I’ve always liked what The Wiyos were up to but have never written about them before. They are a band out of NYC that should really be out of Virginia. This song is a bit of a throw away but you’ll get the general idea. It’s taken from a new tour only EP.
I noticed there was a great lineup of female singer-songwriters playing Club Passim in Cambridge on October 13. I was well aware of three of the four. But the fourth was a mystery. Her name is Datri Bean and her music has been described as “Southern-fried vintage jazz – original tunes which draw from pre-war jazz and folksy Americana, for a lazy afternoon on the porch feeling.” This song, “Foolish”, will be on her upcoming record Ruby. With its unusual combination of ukelele and tuba and Datri’s stunning voice this is a great preview of what’s to come.
I hope I’m not jumping the gun but I just stumbled upon the new record by Austin based Yer Bird artist Caleb Coy. Caleb’s been around and been in a number of semi-experimental projects. This new record is a more traditional Texas lofi americana thing (think Townes et al). It was recorded in Caleb’s airstream out in desert outside of Marfa. It’s called Wild Desert Rose. Lots more info on this Sept 7 release here on Yer Bird’s site.
Here’s an update on an artist whose demo’s I reviewed back in 2008. His sound has been updated some since then with the addition of Lance Owens and Mike Grunder on various instruments. Mike Behrends‘ new record, his solo debut, is called New Feet.
“New Mexico” is a lovelorn ballad about a mythical relationship that will never happen and the dreams and plans that will be all for naught.
Ted Pitney was one of the founders of the bluegrassy collective King Wilkie. He’s just released a solo EP called Genesee. As you might expect the record is more stripped bare than a regular King Wilkie record. Instead a full range of instruments you get just one or two (or on the more rocking tracks 3 or 4); instead of rich vocal harmonies you get just the one voice. This leaves more room for the song.
On “In & Out Of Place” you get a sleepy rock song reminiscent of the early country rock of the 70′s. Images of back roads, canyons, and hilltops attach a physical location to the idea of a better life with a loved one.
Harely Dean is an unlikely Texas troubadour. He’s a college educated man with degrees in Biology and Animal Science. He isn’t one of those guys that sat on his Dad’s knee absorbing all kinds of Texas country music. He didn’t pick up the guitar at 3 years old and he didn’t write his first song at 12. He took a more mature approach buying his first guitar at age twenty five and getting his first gig for beer and tips shortly thereafter. He released a record in 2003 and tried the whole go-on-the-road-with-a-band-and-play-shitty-clubs-for-no-money-thing but tired of it. He’s now working on a more acoustic singer/songwriterly thing.
His new record Brighter Days was produced by Walt Wilkins (wrote about his new one yesterday!!). This song features Harley’s rich vocals and splashes of organ and pedal steel. Buy the new record here.
There are a couple of sounds that I’m always on the lookout for. One of them is represented by the songs on the new EP by Austin band Black Coyote. The best way to describe it would be “ragged and frayed” (I have a feeling this new genre name is not doing to take off like Chillwave). In essence the bands sound mirrors it’s lyrics and the emotional tenor of the music. That’s a pretty fine description of the songs on the new ep Cigarettes and Dust.
Slightly unrelated but I’m heavy into all four seasons of Friday Night Lights and I’d just like to nominate this song as the new anthem of this Texas based show. “Of Strippers and Cowboys” is a perfect fit as it lays out in compelling detail the realities of life in a small Texas town.
I’m a big fan of Tim O’Brien and the way he is able to straddle the worlds of traditional bluegrass and modern folk. The new record, his 13th solo record, is called Chicken & Egg. This song is from it and is a bit old timey in both it’s music and its timeless themes of lost love, bad behavior, and remorse.
Howe Gelb of Giant Sand fame doing Flamenco inspired music makes as much sense as his gospel project Sno Angel. But to some extent Howe Gelb is one of the artists tyhat can simply do no wrong.
In the past Howe’s music has been inspired by the Arizona desert and the rustic sounds that heat combined with despair and a level of remoteness that urban dwellers can only dream of. Now on Alegrias he has joined forces with the members of Band Of Gypsies and several other world renowned Flamenco players to deliver this new record which features older Giant Sand songs along with 4 new songs inspired by the Spanish town of Cordoba.
Thanks to songs about Charlie Poole by Loudoun Wainwright III (here) and now J Shogren I have learned quite a bit about this original country music star and hard partying man of all trades (textiles, pro ballplayer, moonshiner). J Shogren is quite a charachter himself. This Wyoming born singer songwriter is a professor of Applied Philosophy and also the King’s Professor to the King of Sweden. He also received the Nobel Piece prize along with Al Gore. But it’s his unique blend of Americana inspired music that lands him on the cover of Songs:Illinois.
His new record is called Bird Bones & Muscle. Here’s the song “Charlie Poole Charlie Poole” off it. Buy it now at CD Baby here.
It’s been two years since I wrote about Gwil Owens’ debut record Gravyhere. I was lucky to stumble upon Gwil’s music two years ago and my luck continues as I just happened to hear about the new record Ahab’s Birthday. Where Gravy was a little funky, Ahab’s Birthday has turned a little twangy. It helps to have first class guests like Will Kimbrough, Jeff Black, and David Olney. Besides the music it’s the songs that Gwil Owen gets right. Here are two from the new record that is for sale now here at Village Records.
At the moment I’m uploading all my cd’s onto iTunes in anticipation of some sort of music in the cloud announcement coming in June. Occasionally I’ve been posting little tweets like “Best Felt record = A Poem By The River and “Best Steve Earle record = Train A Comin’“.
So anyway I’m going to do a tweet saying “Best Michael Hall record = All of them.” I thought I would expand a bit here on the music of Michael Hall. There’s plenty of biographical info on the web but I know Michael Hall as the lead singer of the 90′s band Wild Seeds. He’s since become an eclectic and until the past few years prolific songwriter. I’m taken in one way or another by all of his records and 99% of his songs. It seems like the majority of his catalog including his work with The Wild Seeds and the Austin supergroup The Setters (Walter Salas Humara and Alejandro Escoveda) is still available. Click here to order anything from his catalog. Here’s a sampling:
I never thought to put the two words “country” and “funk” together. But that’s just what the guys in Stone River Boys are up to. You can hear both ends of that spectrum on “The Struggle” from their latest record Love On The Dial with it’s incessant bass line, groovy horn section, and and both funky and country guitar. I’m honestly not sure if it works for me.
The band consists of Dave Gonzalez of the Hacienda Brothers and Mike Barfield of the Hollisters. Live they have a full band with pedal steel and I imagine it’s a funky good time.
Alright let’s go from one living national treasure (Johnny Dowd here) to another (Bob Cheevers). I jumped the gun writing about this record back in January. It seems the February 2010 release date was pushed back and now Bob Cheevers’ new record, Tall Texas Tales, just got a proper American release on April 20 with a record release show at Saxon’s Pub on May 15th.
“Luckenbach” with it’s tex-mex accordion and references to Lone Star Beer, banditos, and breezy front porches is a perfect example of the songs on this Texas themed record. Buy it now here via Village Records.
Alright just a quickie post about an Austin singer-songwriter named Lincoln Durham. Lincoln’s got a hard-edged country blues sound going on. He just released an EP in advance of his debut record. This song, “Living Hard” will be on the new record and is produced by friend/fan Ray Wylie Hubbard. In fact Ray said it best when he said:
“If you dig Son House and Townes Van Zandt…Lincoln Durham is your man. Don’t come no cooler.”
Last week’s string of posts revisiting great records reviewed recently on Songs:Illinois was fun and I hope you liked it but I didn’t have room to write about Sam Corbin’s 2009 release Michigan Waltz. So this is the last in a series of posts encouraging you to seek out great records from Corin Raymond, Chris Coole, Matt The Electrician, and Adam Carrol with Michael O’Connor.
I know you probably think the state of Michigan is all used up as a subject for a record since Sufjan Stevens already covered this ground. And while I am a fan of both his Illinois record and his Michigan record, I think any subject, if addressed in a personal way, can have more than just one go around.
Buy Michigan Waltzhere via Elderly Instruments. Sam Corbin and a bunch of other notable Michigan songwriters are going to play Double Door in Chicago on May 17.
I went a little overboard in my first post about this record back in January. But now with hindsight and many more listens I agree with everything I said in that post. Hard Times by Adam Carroll and Michael O’Connor is a quintessential Texas americana record. It stands up there with the best of the bunch. There are equal parts humor, sadness, and resignation on this record which deals with hard times in the Gulf Coast region of Texas.
“Billy Gibbons Beard” is one of the funny yet finely wrought songs on this record. Here’s a couple of lyrics”
“In the gulf coast honky-tonks they sweep the eyeballs off the floor”
“I wound on the bottle just like mom and dad had feared with a bar tab twice as long as Billy Gibbons beard”
“There’s a dusty Heisman Trophy sitting on the shelf. There’s a long gone run down hero in there talking to himself about the days he used to run that ball. There’s a band playing in the bar called Billy Gibbons Beard”
I’m liking this idea of revisiting unheralded but important records I have reviewed in the recent past (see earlier posts on Corin Raymond and Chris Coole). Today’s update is about everyone’s favorite Austin singer songwriter Matt The Electrician. I’ve been a fan of Matt’s for awhile and I knew he was a big deal in Austin, but had no idea of his success in that city so full of musicians and singers. At SXSW I was flipping through the Austin Chronicle’s music issue with their annual Austin Music Awards and Matt The Electrician was all over that thing. He was nominated for multiple awards; favorite artist, best live show, etc., etc., etc.
Matt’s new record Animal Boy was prominently displayed in boutiques, organic groceries, and of course at the record stores that litter that town. I wrote about the new record here and his song “For Angela”. Here’s one more track from that record. “College” has that straight to tape sound I love so much and the song is clever, bitter and funny in equal parts.
If you want your own copy of this record get it now at CDBaby here. See him live each and every Monday night at the world famous Saxon Pub in Austin.
All the artists profiled this week have been reviewed on Songs:Illinois in the recent past. But I didn’t want those original posts to be one and done deals. These are just a few of the singer songwriters which I’ve discovered through writing Songs:Illinois that I won’t quickly forget. So I got approval from each one to post an additional song in the hopes hearing them will make a few more converts.
Chris Coole is a Toronto based artist who excels at banjo and just recently released his debut record Old Dog. When I first wrote about Chris’ record I linked to his song “Hell To Pay”, but I mentioned my love of the title track “Old Dog”. Well here’s that track (for all you dog lovers).
As I told Chris when I explained this post to him, I recently loaned out his record to a friend and am now practically in withdrawal since it’s gone “missing”. You can pick up your own copy here through Elderly Instruments.
This song from Mark Erelli’s new record Little Vigils is not really representative of the sound or the style of the record. But that’s the case with just about every song on the record. There’s no one sound or style that can sum up Little Vigils. On Little Vigils Mark is content to use different textures and tempos to convey different emotions on a wide range of songs. Whether it’s the delicate twang of “August” or the deathly folk sounds of “Hemlock Grove” this record can simply not be pinned down. Mark Erelli has made a record that is suitable for multiple listens and new discoveries (and new favorite songs) on each listen.
At the moment I am loving the nostalgic rock `n’ roll of “Basement Days” but check in with me tomorrow and I might be on to the anti-religion screed of “Kingdom Come” or perhaps it’ll be the bluegrassy goodness of “Mother of Mysteries”. Either way for now I’m loving the song “Basement Days” which is a look back at the teenage “lets-form-a-band” eagerness and naivety that is usually lost by ones early twenties. The beauty of the song is how it pegs that feeling of awe and wonderment that is usually left behind as we grow up. Ironically the song with it’s chorus of “can’t get back to those basement days” is not completely autobiographical as Mark Erelli has never lost that sense of wonder and the idea that the power of a song is unequaled. I highly recommend this record.
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.