I have made it a rule at Songs:Illinois to write about everything Tom Brosseau does. Whether it’s his solo stuff with an indie folk bent, the more full band sound he’s developed over the years or now his duo project with Angela Correa called Les Shelleys.
On “The World Is Waiting For The Sunrise” these two accomplished singer songwriters weave their voices in and around this classic song. You should be able to order the new record soon via Fat Cat Records.
I imagine a simple song is one of the hardest to write. I imagine it must seem every combination of words has already been used up. I imagine there are lots of false starts and endless revisions. I imagine at the end of the day you hope you’d wind up with something like “My Bird” off the new record The Cartographer’s Wife by Danielle Doyle.
This is Danielle Doyle’s debut record and was put together with the help of a bunch of up and coming Boston based artists. She has already been rewarded by being named a 2009 Mountain Stage New Song Youth Winner, as well as opening up for a bunch of luminaries (Loudon Wainwright III, Dawn Landes, Heather Masse). She’ll be appearing this Saturday at the fabled Club Passim in Cambridge for a matinee show with friend Beth Colegrove.
I’ve written a bunch about Adam Carroll. I’ve covered his solo records (here), a duo record with Michael O’Connor (here) and now a live from Flipnotics Cafe record.
To quote myself here’s what I originally wrote about the song “Oklahoma Gypsy Shuffler” when it first appeared on Adam’s record Old Town Rock N Roll:
The song is about a loner who roams the land getting into and out of trouble, both mortal and of the soul. With lines like “drivin’ down the west coast highway”, “songs out the window was all he had to lose” (can’t you just picture the songs floating out the window?), “cuttin’ heads on the chitlin’ circuit”, and “snorting cocaine off a buck knife” Oklahoma Gypsy Shuffler is as timeless as the Oklahoma dust bowl and the howling winds of West Texas.
I think that pretty much nails it, except to say that this live record features production and playing by Scrappy Jud Newcomb and along with the older songs Adam throws in a couple of new ones. If you are an Adam Carroll completist like myself you’ll want to buy this one (here). Catch Adam Carroll at Flipnotics on 9pm on Friday night and then stay for friend and Austin legend Beaver Nelson (or go a little early to see Scrappy Jud Newcomb).
I used to be a pretty serious Rilo Kiley fan. But I really had no use for the actual band. I guess I was really a just Jenny Lewis fan at heart. I feel like Rebecca Loebe’s new record has some of the best parts of Jenny Lewis mixed with the whimsical folk music I’m drawn to. Rebecca Loebe has a new record that just came out called Mystery Prize. It’s already charting on Americana charts which may not be the best place for her music, but really what else is there for someone with a guitar and a song to sing.
You can buy the new record here. I’ve been listening to it on repeat for the last couple of days and really suggest that you do.
Rebecca plays three shows next week at SXSW. Here’s her schedule (not to sway you or anything but I’ll be at the first one at Flipnotics – also appearing – Danny Schmidt, Matt The Electician, Devon Sproule, and Raina Rose):
This morning I almost wrote about new records by Matt Harlan and Zoe Muth & The Lost High Rollers but in both cases other blogs beat me to the punch and did a good job sharing their music (here and here). So instead I will mention the new record by Raina Rose called When May Came.
When May Came was recorded in Raina’s living room mostly live and mixed by singer songwriter Jonathan Byrd. It has the immediacy of a record recorded live as well as the energy. “Sun Comes Back” is a perfect song for this rainy Chicago morning despite being a tale of a broken relationship. Any song with sun in the title picks me up just a little and I know the actual sun can’t be far from returning.
Raina Rose’s new record is out now on a little record label called Constant Clip Records created by singer-songerwriter and Songs:Illinois favorite Elam Blackman. Raina also has some shows coming up with the great Aj Roach so check her schedule for more info. You can purchase When May Camehere.
I made a pact with myself about 4 years ago never to post major label schlock on Songs:Illinois. One reason for my boycott is that on the whole major label releases equate to overproduced, lowest common denominator crap. The second reason is that the majors aren’t thrilled with music blog coverage and I’m not that keen on having my site summarily deleted.
But I couldn’t resist with this new record by Isaac Russell due out in 2010 on Columbia/Sony. Isaac is a Provo, Ut based singer songwriter who has recently been on tour with Pete Yorn, as well as recording with Dennis Herring (The Hives, Elvis Costello, Counting Crows). I’m not sure how he got all these big breaks, but I’m willing to guess at least part of the reason is his hard work, his songwriting ability, and his velvety vocals. “House of Cards” is from that forthcoming, as yet untitled, major label debut. Catch Isaac Russell in Austin at SXSW on Wednesday, March 17 at 8:00 PM at the The Ale House.
If Boo Hewerdine is known nowadays it’s for being the former lead singer of the English band The Bible. But for me I’ll always associate him (even though I loved some of the stuff The Bible put out) with one record he did with Darden Smith in 1989 called Evidence. It was a strange collaboration since Boo was known for gorgeous indie rock and Darden for southwestern rootsy folk. But they pulled it off and in fact it was those contrasting approaches to music that did it.
Boo Hewerdine’s first record in almost a decade is out Oct 26. It’s called God Bless The Pretty Things. As you can hear from the song “Muddy Water” Boo has one of the most beautiful male voices in music. Buy it here.
I had a partial idea of what Katie Mullins upcoming release Pastoral might sound like just from viewing the top friends section of her MySpace page. With friends like C. Gibbs, Clare Burson, Lucinda Black Bear, and Fulton Lights I suspected that her sound would not be typical chick with guitar alt-rock. Happily I was right.
A good place to start is the title track “Pastoral”. The song begins with a line about Tom Waits with the only accompaniment being a kalimba, but soon enough an ominous sounding bass enters and the song begins to unfold.
Pastoral comes out November 3 but can pre-ordered now through Katie Mullin’s website here.
Signe Tolefsen is a half Dutch, half American singer/songwriter with a tremendous vocal range and an interesting musical sensibility that combines elements of classical, folk and rock music.
“Where You Been” from Signe Tollefsen’s new record is a startlingly good minimalist blues/soul/gospel number. About halfway through, when Signe really stretches out when singing the chorus, you’ll hear as much emotion as you’re likely to hear in a song. The new record is her debut for the Dutch roots label Corazong.
I’ve been busy lately with some non music related stuff (sad, I know). But I’ve also been working on and off trying to set up the next Songs:Illinois presents house concert and yesterday I finalized it.
On Oct. 11 we welcome Peter Mulvey and Matt Jones into our living room. I’m excited about the lineup as Peter Mulvey is known for his songs, stories and good humor. Matt Jones is a Ypsilanti based artist that has been labeled indie folk. But on his debut his music veers in several directions at once so he’s not a guy to be pigeonholed.
The show is semi-private. I can’t advertise or make a big commotion for contractual reasons but if you are interested in attending and live in the Chicago area then email me at email@example.com. Here’s a song from Peter’s new record Letters from a Flying Machine and from Matt Jones’ debut The Black Path.
P.S. Here’s something new from Austinite Bob Schneider. Bob Schneider’s Lovely Creatures is out on Kirtland Records on September 29. This may be the first single. It’s too polished for me but if you are a fan of early 90′s Matthew Sweet era power pop this might be for you (plus by linking to this I’ll get picked up by Hype Machine and Elbo.ws and maybe get the two artists above a little more attention)
The new record Strange Faith and Practice by Jeb Loy Nichols is out in the US on September 8th. Usually I would get an mp3 from the new record to share, but this one is even more under the radar than usual.
So I don’t have a song from the new one but you should really acquaint yourself with his music below. I like the Boz Scaggs shuffle and prominent bass line in the song “Country Music Disco”. In fact this song could serve as the new theme song for S:I with lines like “Hey Mr. DJ let the country music play, play some Charlie Rich, Bill Monroe, play some Merle Haggard and some old George Jones.”
The new record from The Duke & The King may not be a full fledged concept album but it might as well be. The album is so full of songs about lies, recriminations, bad choices, lost loves, regrets and the joys and horrors of a misspent youth that you get the picture pretty quickly. There’s a sad story attached to the making of the record, but since I promptly threw the bio sheet away and would rather not have that influence my listening anyway you’ll have to search that out for yourself. Needless to say the record is a loosely tied together both thematically and musically.
“Union Street” may have the thumpingest bass and the most obnoxious heavy drum beat (Simon Felice was the drummer in The Felice Brothers, after all) but it also is the song on the record that best shows his promise as a writer who can juxtapose images of hopelessness with a glimmer of hope (if you wonder in which song the band proves it can write a hit check out “If You Ever Get Famous” and if you are curious if the band can write a song that isn’t completely melancholy check out the wonderful “Summer Morning Rain”).
Amy Allison has a unique vocal delivery. Much like her dad, Mose Allison. I like both. Amy Allison’s new record is out soon on Urban Myth Records (June 23). Like her dad she combines jazz, blues and torch styles to create her own genre. Special guests include Elvis Costello, Van Dyke Parks, Dave Alvin and of course Mose Allison.
Jill Sobule’s all grown up. She’s given up on the label system and like several of the artists this week is releasing a fan funded record on her own label. I’ve never been a big fan of Jill Sobule (I liked her “hits” as much as the next guy though) but since Songs:Illinois’ mission statement is to support artists that are independent and doing it mostly themselves I can’t help but do a post on this new record.
California Years comes out April 14 on Jill’s own label. The song “San Francisco” continues to explore the lesbian characters and relationships Jill Sobule has spotlighted her entire career. While “Good Life” is a quirky little tale of love populated with aliens, earthquakes, and total armageddon. The record was produced by Don Was. So even though it’s diy its still got great sound.
Anyone my age who had a broad interest in music probably has a Michelle Shocked story. Whether it was seeing her live or simply being struck by those darned crickets in her debut release. She was surprisingly successful for a few years back in the late 80′s. I only say surprisingly because her music was so great but also so rural that her success was a complete anomaly.
Over the last decade or so she has been an outsider, experimenting with various genre’s and sounds (most recently reggae and gospel). While her new record, Soul Of My Soul, doesn’t return her completely to her roots, it is more accessible than recent works and probably more palatable to her early fans. The song “Pompeii” takes jabs at the US way of life with it’s failed democracy and corporate hegemony but it does so with a tropical beat, soothing backup singers, and her new “soul” sound.
Slaid Cleaves may not be the king of Austin singer-songwriters, that title still belongs to Willie Nelson, but he is certainly one of it’s Princes. Thus it was important for me to pay my respects on my last night in Austin. Slaid was the headliner at the famed Cactus Cafe on a night filled with the cream of the crop from Austin and beyond (Sam Baker, Rod Picot and Amanda Shire, Gurf Morlix, Matt the Electrician, and Graham Weber). He was there touting a bunch of new songs from his upcoming self released record Everything You Love Will Be Taken Away.
“Cry” is the title track and according to Slaid’s bio sets the tempo/theme for the record, “Whether it’s your loved ones, your way of life, or even just your sense of innocence and hope, every song in some way is about how it all gets taken away.” Slaid has left the comfy confines of the Rounder Records behomoth and joined the co-op label Music Road Records founded by friend and musician Jimmy LaFave. Slaid now has his destiny in his own hands with this new diy route, ““I’m in on all the decisions,” says Cleaves. “It feels good to have so much more control over my fate now. I figured, I cut my own hair, I fix my own car — so why shouldn’t I be the one responsible for getting this work of mine out into the world?”
“Cry” is relentlessly down with lines like “every blue sky fades to gray”, “watch your little heart get crushed” and of course “everything you love will get taken away”. But it’s cathartic as well. I’m still listening to the entire record but this song and the others Slaid played live bode well.
You can (and should) pre-order this April 21st release here though Amazon.
Sometimes I labor over a post wondering if the music is good enough, if the artist is “legit” enough or simply if I care enough. That’s not the case with a Richard Shindell post. The man is clearly in the upper echelon of the folk world. And his stature and music has only grown since his move to Argentina. With each new release he continues to blend the culture of Buenos Aires with his original homeland of New Jersey, it’s an odd, beguiling combination.
It’s been too long since his last record of original songs though. His covers record South Of Delia tided us over for a time with it’s reinterpretations of classics from Bob Dylan, Woody Gutherie and Bruce Springsteen (and new classics from Josh Ritter and Jeffrey Foucault). The new record is called Not Far Now (Signature Sounds) and Richard describes how he knew it was time to record a new album below:
“There are various subtle indications that it is time to make a new album,” he explains from his adopted hometown of Buenos Aires. “Like when my fans start looking at me funny, when I’ve run through every puzzle at every level in the sudoku book, or when my children start to ask me what I do for a living…”
The song I linked to is about a mule. Apparently it’s a song that Richard has been performing live and that people respond to for the obvious reasons:
“Of the eleven songs on this record,” Shindell reflects, “there are three that have shown up pretty regularly in my live sets during the past year or two. People seem to like ‘Clara’ the most, as do I. This is perhaps explained by the fact that Clara is a mule, and people generally like songs about mules.”
It’s been a couple of hours since I received an email announcing Tom
Brosseau’s new record Posthumous Success (on Fat Cat) and a link to a song off of it. I held back on posting it despite Tom being one of my favorite singer-songwriters because I figured it’d be all over the blogs by now, but still no sight of it.
There’s talk that this new record will be darker, different, fuller, richer but it sounds to me like classic Tom Brousseau. Crystal clear picked and strummed acoustic guitar accompanied by upper register vocals that make his simple blues songs seem almost otherworldly. “Favorite Color Blue” is so quiet in fact that you can hear the cars streaming by in the instrumental introduction. “Big Time” on the other hand features the bigger, bolder sound that the press release describes but it’s in the seconds before the drums kick in that the song has emotional weight. The drums are merely a distraction from Tom’s voice, guitar, and lyrics.
Tom’s got three shows so far during SXSW. Here are the dates. I’ll be at at least one of them (don’t want to appear to be a stalker!).
20 Mar Creekside 3pm SXSW
20 Mar Hilton Garden 9pm SXSW
21 Mar Longbranch Inn 215pm SXSW
I’m generally against animal cruelty. But I can’t overlook this opportunity to kill two birds with one stone. Sarah MacDougall is an ex pat Swede living in Vancouver. Her brand of polished folk pop is perfect for Songs:Illinois while her Nordic routes make her an ideal artist for Swedesplease. Sarah’s new record, Across The Atlantic, came out this year on the excellent little label Copperspine.
“Crow’s Lament” is a great example of the eclectic nature of this new record. The song’s a whirling dervish of a tune about death. It features Sarah’s lusty vocals, some of the unusual instrumentation from the record (dobro, weissenborn, lapsteel, odd percussion, rhodes, and pedal steel) and clever lyrics.
You can buy the new record here or here (and I heartily recommend that you do!).
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.