Friday, December 28, 2007

Lowstar - Last Christmas

Lowstar are a rock band, but when I explained we were only going to be interested in posting their songs when they hit their Johnny Cash phase Ian from the band sent us this - the cheese-fest that is George Michael's finest moment (other than careless whisper's sax break) slowed down, bit of lap steel and a touch of glockenspiel. Rather affecting it is too. Happy new year!

Listen: Lowstar - Last Chrismas


in other news - there's a new AMC album out in February apparently.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Lonesome Albums of the Year

We debated about whether or not to publish an end of year list, but we couldn't resist. As we've both said before, Lonesome is a bit like a published version of the kind of chat we'd have anyway, so here we are to share it with you. So picture us all down the pub, (two pints of Guinness, please), and take this list as our way of asking "have you heard this?".

Catherine Howe - What a Beautiful Place

Easily the most listened to in the car, for the palpable surge of joy and pleasure whilst stuck in traffic I guess. The odd instrumentals that sound like the intro to the original Star Trek along with her slightly plummy, ever so English talk overs are a treat in themselves, but the strings are a true thing of beauty.
Listen: Catherine Howe - Up North

Buy it

Patty Griffin - Railway Wings

Bloody marvellous, a firm favorite for both of us. Our first exposure to Patty's work, and on the basis of this album we're both looking forward to exploring her back catalogue.
Listen: Patty Griffin - Railroad Wings

Buy it

The Acorn - Tin Fist

A mini album of mini masterpieces that also gave us the fantastically named Tin-Fisting tour. Classy chamber-pop.
Listen: The Acorn - Dents

Buy it

Two Dollar Pistols - Here Tomorrow Gone Today

Quality, straight up country from a man blessed with a truly extraordinary set of pipes. No nonense, tear in your beer honky tonk and all the better for it.

Listen: Two Dollar Pistols - Nothing Left of Me at All

Buy it

Leatherbag - Love Me Like the Devil

Probably 2007's most-played album in the northern lonesome outpost. We had a long debate about which song to post up here - really, all of the tracks are superb. Stripped down melancholia with a story to tell and strings and steel to bring you to your knees. Highly recommended.

Listen: Leatherbag - Jennie from Milwaukee

Buy it

Soulsavers - It's Not How Far You Fall it's the Way You Land

Without doubt, Revival is the song of the year. Mark Lanegan sings country feedback, spiritualized style. Amazing. The rest of the album can't quite match it, but when a song is this good, that's not surprising.

Listen: Soulsavers - Revival

Buy it

Riders in the sky - Public Cowboy Volume One - A Centennial Salute to the Music of Gene Autry

We're Rider Pals and so should you be, too. Proper big sky western music with a knowing smile but without any trace of cynicism.

Listen: Riders In The Sky - Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle

Buy it

Iron & Wine - The Shepherd's Dog

Sam Beam makes the leap from spartan to splendour look effortless.

Listen: Iron & Wine - Flightless Bird, American Mouth

Buy it

James Blackshaw - O True Believers

Instrumental 12 string guitar music that is more about mood than flash. Somewhere between baroque & folk, Philip Glass on a harpsichord maybe?
Listen: James Blackshaw - Spiralling Skeleton Memorial

Buy it

Laura Veirs - Saltbreakers

Much more going on than first impressions would suggest.
Listen: Laura Veirs - To The Country

Buy it

Hayward Williams - Another Sailor's Dream

We stumbled upon this charmer when he supported No River City and his album is a very easy listen. It's everything the Ryan Adams album should have been - bittersweet, rootsy and full of heart. With extra harmonica.

Listen: Hayward Williams - Careful Please

Buy it

The Roadside Graves - No-one Will Know Where You've Been

Relentlessly bleak and beautiful, this album is a woozy roadtrip of a record, full of gorgeous songs about ugly things. Imagine the Jayhawks singing Richmond Fontaine to a National backing track and you get the picture.

Listen: The Roadside Graves - Live Slow

Buy it.

There's more information and likely some more songs from each album above tucked away in this year's archives. Enjoy.
Wishing you all a happy, safe and peaceful Christmas,

Howard and Beth X

Friday, December 14, 2007

The Derailers - Under the Influence of Buck

Buck Owens rather than Buckfast, obviously.

So then, I'm assuming that most of our (UK) readers had a local pub during their formative years. Well, we did and what a fine no-nonsense establishment it is too. No jukebox, but a bar stereo stocked with an impressive range of straight-up country and celtic delights. As it's nearly time for a trip home, let's have a warm up with some honky-tonk round here.

Austin's The Derailers have been putting out boot-stomping, hangdog honky-tonk for a decade now, and their tribute to Buck Owens is a pure delight. Every songs's a winner. It's full of good time rollicking stompers and enough steel guitar to keep all the family happy. Perfect for putting up the christmas decorations to. Enjoy.

Listen - The Derailers - Down on the Corner of Love
Listen - The Derailers - Cryin' Time

Buy it
More info here.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Merle Haggard's Bluegrass Sessions

I like a bit of Merle, I like it even more when he does his bluegrass thing. So whilst clearing out our extensive back catalogue of emails I came across a plea to post someting about Merle's Bluegrass Sessions album. This hasn't been released in the UK (where we're based) so it rather fell off my radar, but a few listens to the tracks on repeat was all it took to realise it's a lonesome post.

Listen: Merle Haggard - Mama's hungry eyes

Listen: Merle Haggard - Wouldn't that be something
Buy it (on import still!)

Thursday, December 06, 2007

He's Just a Fella

Lonesome Dad was a teacher and, one year, someone stole Baby Jesus from the school nativity scene.

Our family seems to find this hilarious and I can't help but wonder about the fate of the doll. Really, if you were a kid, and you'd stolen Jesus, what would you do with him? (Him?) And how guilty would you feel? And for how long?

Listen - Wayne Robbins and the Hellsayers - Jesus
(*warning - really very noisy bit*)

Listen - The Lonesome Sisters - Forgiveness.

Buy, buy, buy the glorious Lonesome Sisters, or Wayne Robbins and the Hellsayers.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

The Story of Everest

Better late than never. The Story of Everest have their entire Consuelo Y Mas EP available for download, and it's worth the time if you happen to like the country-fied Pavement (think Crooked Rain) and Beachwood Sparks. Surprising instrumentation (the brass is particularly good) and excellent beards like those worn in Nowheresville.

Listen: The Story of Everest - Moonshiner
Listen: The Story of Everest - Sweat

Friday, November 09, 2007

Feeling a bit emotional on the train

Both Howard and I are doing a fair whack of commuting these days. So there's a lot of time to listen to music, gaze out of the window and think deep thoughts. And I keep finding myself coming over all peculiar on the train.

The joys of modern technology mean that I have a veritable treasure trove of sad songs for company and, my God, some of them show no mercy when it comes to plucking at the heartstrings. If you're reading this site, then you'll know what I mean.

Still, nothing like welling up among the suits to set you up for the day.
To mark the end of the working week, here are some culprits.

Listen - Lucy Kaplansky - More Than This
Listen - Damien Jurado - Apart
Listen - The Czars - Anger.

Buy Lucy Kaplansky, or The Czars.
The Damien Jurado song is from a tour-only CD, but if you liked that, then I'd recommend his newish one.

And if you have five minutes to spare, go and have a look at some beautiful and evocative images of trains in cinema, (yes, really), here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

RIP Porter Wagoner, The Thin Man from West Plains

Sad news about Porter.
What teeth. What suits.
What a guy.

Listen - Porter and Dolly - Better Move it On Home
Listen - Porter Wagoner - Sorrow on the Rocks (for Kate)
Listen - Porter Wagoner - The Rubber Room
Listen - Porter Wagoner - Be a Little Quieter

More songs on the marvellous There's Always Someone Cooler than You
Read all about it

Buy some Porter and Dolly, the frankly nuts Rubber Room or this year's Wagonmaster

Friday, October 26, 2007

Nashville Scene - Americana Dream

Nashville Scene - Americana Dream - a good Friday read about just how broad a spectrum of music is covered by Americana as a genre/label.
Here at lonesome Beth & I post pretty much what we like, but I regularly describe our choices as being Americana/folk, especially to artists/hype departments looking to submit songs. It's a neat way to reduce the amount of r&B, electro, ambient & new-rave (no reggae yet - although we'd still give it a listen) that comes our way, especially from those that don't stop to wonder why we're called lonesome music.
Recently I've had a few qualms about posting what I would consider mainstream Nashville artists (after listening to the tracks I didn't post), mainly because the music just isn't that interesting to me on a personal level. The article talks about the need for a feeling of connection with an artists music, something I just don't get when Country collides with pop in those Nashville artists being represented.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Iron and Wine - surprisingly funky

I had the pleasure of seeing Iron and Wine last night on the first date of their UK tour. Beards and tanktops, I was prepared for. The usual Emmerdale cast members in the crowd, I was prepared for. The level of funkiness, I was not prepared for. Folks, for a band that look like geography teachers, this lot know how to rock.

They rocked out in a set that drew heavily on their new album and it took a fair while for the audience to warm up. Like Laura Veirs' album earlier this year, this new one has a much bigger and fuller sound - the Calexico stuff has obviously rubbed off - and it is very different from their earlier releases. The band (all eight of them - I couldn't even work out what a couple of them were playing) told us that they were "blowing the dust off", but they were tight, precise and heavy on the steel guitar and handclaps. Perfectly lonesome.

Don't fear the change. The new album is superb - layered and complex, but still sounding as organic and dreamy as the earlier stripped down stuff. I think it's all in Sam Beam's easy delivery.
How does he remember all those words?

Listen - Iron and Wine - Carousel
Listen - Iron and Wine - Resurrection Fern

Buy it

Friday, October 19, 2007

Amy Speace and the Tearjerks

Amy Speace's Songs for the Bright Street album is just the job for a change of pace for the weekend. It's got the lot - lots of sad country twang, a dollop of folk and just a smidge of pop (including an improbably successful cover of Blondie's Dreaming that I think I'll post soon). In short, it's full of melodic treats that will make your heart ache. In a good way, of course.

If you're a fan of Lucinda Williams/Caitlin Cary/Roseanne Cash, then give this a whirl and wonder why you haven't heard of her before.

Here's my personal favourite, the fantastic Cowboy Junkies-like Make Me Lonely Again and Two, a duet with Gary Louris of the Jayhawks.

Listen - Amy Speace - Make Me Lonely Again
Listen - Amy Speace - Two.

Buy it

Monday, October 15, 2007

With a wave of his jewel-encrusted hand across a glittering Kilburn High Road scene

It's been at least a couple of weeks since either of us posted something AMC-related, so allow me to rectify that immediately and to celebrate last night's stellar Eitzel gig at The Luminaire.

I know that some people find the Eitzel back catalogue a bit overwhelming - I can sympathise, (I feel the same way about, say, The Mountain Goats), so let me make a heartfelt suggestion. Leave the covers/jazzy/Greek stuff for later and go straight for the dark delights of Songs of Love.

My Lastfm profile is evidence of my love of all things early 90s AMC/Eitzel. It's a prime example of a band hitting its creative peak at a time when you are most susceptible to it. I first heard Songs of Love on the B side of a tape that Howard did for me way back in the midst of adolescence; I thought it was him, his response was a typically understated "thank you". Seeing Eitzel at Reading in 1994 was quite extraordinary and then finding Everclear in Jumbo Records later for a fiver (having by then progressed to CDs) probably played an instrumental part in me moving to Leeds.

Having survived a run of bad luck and armed with only an acoustic guitar, Mark Eitzel laughs and cries his way through a set that pulls from the early AMC albums and proves what a trooper he is. Dark music is for people who are healthy enough to take it, indeed. I could happily post the whole album - and if you stick around long enough, we probably will - but here are two from the hard to find California album. Enjoy.

Listen - Mark Eitzel - Firefly
Listen - Mark Eitzel - Blue and Grey Shirt.

Buy Songs of Love
More info and what looks like the entire Love Songs for Patriots album for free on the official site.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Scott Matthews (or Midlands fun)

As Howard wrote earlier this week, it's all change on the work front and my days of commuting to Birmingham have come to an end. To mark the great occassion, I thought I'd post some Scott Matthews, Woverhampton's boy-wonder. So much for the Midlands being the home of ROCK.

I'm surprised that Scott hasn't had more coverage - he makes the kind of breathy, dense boy songs that normally explode over the blogosphere with all manner of 'OMG it's the next Buckley/Smith/Drake' comparisons that I find so massively nauseating. (Tell me it's not just me). A re-release of the album this year, (off the back of the single Elusive), an upcoming support slot for Rufus Wainwright over here and then a trip to the US should change all that though.

What sets this apart for me is the instrumentation. There are tablas, wurlitzers, flutes and vibraphones running right through the album. Proof positive that music doesn't have to change your life to make it better.

Listen - Prayers
Listen - White Feathered Medicine (good flute)

Buy it

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Meg Baird

Both Beth and I are experiencing a little job/career change/turbulence so posting will be even more sporadic than normal. On the other hand my commute-time will increase by a factor of two, so the opportunities to listen to even more new music and old favourites will increase (as will my book consumption). It was on just such a tube ride into London that Meg Baird's lovely new album Dear Companion burst into focus.

I'd got the album a few weeks ago, heard it in the background whilst working at home a couple of times, but a decent set of headphones and some time staring out on a prematurely Autumnal scene of rain and browning leaves was all it took to convince me that there was about half an album of postable tracks to choose from. Maybe more than half. That's a lot of lonesome and quite some recommendation.

Listen: Meg Baird - do what you gotta do

Listen: Meg Baird - Waltze of the tennis players

Buy it, although if you want it on vinyl you need to get it through Drag City.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Remmelt, Muus and Femke - Dutch Neil Young Enthusiasts

Now if that title doesn't grab you, then there's no hope, is there? This article about Neil Young covers made me think about this lot so here are some songs from 2005's The Long Way Round.
There is no denying that they sound a lot like CSNY - it is warm folky rock, straight up and easy listening in its purest sense. They even namecheck Neil Young on Carina's Waltz - "and they all sang along when we played Mr. Young". It's joyful and knowing without being tainted by the weight of cynicism; perfect for a spot of dancing round the kitchen.

Listen - Remmelt, Muus and Femke - Carina's Waltz
Listen - Remmelt, Muus and Femke - Here Comes The Sun
And a singalong bonus that sounds like it was performed in a 1968 musical - Remmelt, Muus and Femke - One Way or Another

Buy it or just have a mild chuckle at the general European nature of their official site
More info on their MySpace.

Friday, September 14, 2007

The Broken Family Band

There are some bands you want to preserve in aspic (too many for me to mention, but most associated with my youth), others that do it to themselves (Tindersticks, Sparklehorse) and some you just wish would sit still for a minute and mine the good seam they've hit before veering off wildly in another direction. A very few show promise early on and somehow get you to buy in to the changes they make to their sound over the course of several albums - The Broken Family Band are such a band.
The Broken Family Band's 4th album Hello Love was out a while back (I think I picked it up sometime in July) and finds the band caught between and something a little less stylised. The album works for the most part, with intelligent lyrics and a strong set of tunes winning me round to their ever expanding musical palettes, arrangements and expensive sounding production techniques - but don't let that last sentence think you're about to hear any Nashville pop masquerading as country.

Listen: The broken family band - give and take

Listen: The broken family band - you get me

Buy it

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Christian Williams

Back with his gothic country music, Christian Williams has a new album called Defiant, described by the man himself as 'just as dark as the last one but there's a little more humor and a lot more toe-tapping'. There's more banjo in evidence on these tracks too on the blood thirsty Henry May and some fine frailing (I hope that's the right term, could be clawhammer, could just be strumming - my wife won't entertain a banjo remember?) to match the yodelling on Preacher.

I've just sat through a whole banjo lesson on youtube from the man who wrote the how and the tao of 5 string banjo. I'm still none the wiser, but find myself wanting a banjo, again.

Listen: Christian Williams - Henry May
Listen: Christian Williams - Preacher


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Emmylou Harris - Too far gone

From the classic Pieces of the Sky album, here's what I consider one of the many highlights that was listening to on the plane back from Dublin last night. Dublin was business, the traffic insane and the company generally pleasant. Even the covers on this album are good, musicianship flawless (no surprise given the supporting cast involved) and Emmylou's sensitive handling of what would be cloying in almost anyone else's hands.

Listen - Emmylou Harris - Too far gone

Buy it

Monday, September 10, 2007

Ah! Melody

Gah. Much as we love a bit of melancholia around here, it's quite another thing to see one of our friends feel fed up. Now my record collection isn't ever going to make for the most cheery post, but here are some songs that I hope make things better.

Listen - Serge Gainsbourg - Ballade de Melody Nelson
Listen -
Ron Sexsmith (ft. Chris Martin) - Gold in them Hills

Listen - Great Lake Swimmers - See You on the Moon (a rare lighthearted moment finds them wondering what to do when they grow up. Utterly charming).

Buy yourself some Serge, Ron Sexsmith, and/or the Great Lake Swimmers.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Clare Burson

Clare Burson's new album more than meets the lonesome pedal steel quota (well over half, if you don't mind). Thieves is just a gorgeous album - pared down in places, full on twang in others, consistently engaging.

The vocals are right up there too, a bit Lucinda Williams, a bit Patty Griffin and maybe even a spot of Hugo Largo's Mimi Goese in there, too. Clare's a classically trained musician and you can tell. Highly recommended.

I could have happily posted up any of the songs on her new album, but as it's the weekend, here's a spot of cosmic cowgirl twang:

Listen - Clare Burson - Angels

And here's an older one from 2005's Idaho EP:
Listen - Clare Burson - Love Me In The Morning.

Buy it from Clare's official site.
More info and tour dates on MySpace.

Thursday, August 30, 2007

you and me and some recommendations.

After a brief holiday to the seaside (Bank holiday comes 6 times a year) and listening to some music old and new I've got some recommendations. If you're feeling adventurous I can recommend the new Richard Hawley album if you don't already have it(probably due a post as soon as Beth has heard it too) and the new album by Euros Childs with the cover that looks like once we were trees by beachwood sparks. All this and I've still got a backlog of music building up that needs a serious listen.

Whilst trawling my mp3 blog feeds I found over on songs:illinois a lovely subtle track by Little Wings sounding not unlike Nixon with Will Oldham singing. Recommended.

Also whilst away I've been enjoying the soft rock stylings of Crosby and Nash playing a short 5 song set for the BBC on youtube - you can enjoy them by clicking here. Nothing has made me want a great big Martin dreadnought guitar quite as much, pity they cost so much.

So whilst gently buzzing I thought I'd bring your attention to a band called you and me. Now for me that's triggering a mental image of a crow and a doormouse standing beside each other, maybe for you it's the best song by the wannadies. Hailing for Montreal, they fill the gap left in my life by the lack of a new Mojave 3 album quite nicely. Sweet and downtempo country rock/folk/indie with boy/girl vocals and the sort of ennui I already feel for my holiday. Their album is called The Romantic and the Realist.

Listen: you and me - for five
Listen: you and me - in the still

Official - to buy the album from the band direct just follow the disco tab link.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Catherine Howe - Up North

The description in one amazon review as Joni meets Sandy meets Dusty meets Bonnie Tyler was enough to make me want to hear more, in fact it rather neatly captured my recent listening habits. So I got the album and find myself agreeing with the sentiment of that review (although I'm not a Bonnie Tyler fan, so not in a position to comment about that bit).

I find that the melancholy here is provided by my sweet-toothed, brown paisley (with mustard detail) nostalgia for the 70s, a decade I can only just remember - indeed this was recorded in the year I was born - 1971. There are spoken interludes at the beginning middle and end that create a framework for some impeccably arranged and very lushly orchestrated folk pop. I will be investigating her other albums soon. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Listen: Catherine Howe - Up North


Buy it

bonus: Catherine Howe - In the hot Summer

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Just a country boy that combed his hair

It seems downright wrong to let a day like today go by without an Elvis post. Here's a couple from my favourite era and a Gillian Welch song so bloody good that I wouldn't be surprised if the whole blogosphere didn't post it up today. RIP. TCB.

Listen - Gillian Welch - Elvis Presley Blues

Listen - Elvis Presley - If I Can Dream
Listen - Elvis Presley - An American Dream (hello Woodhouse)

Buy the marvellous Time (The Revelator)
Get yourself some Elvis.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

The Steep Canyon Rangers

Time for some bluegrass, I think.

So, here's some tunes from the Asheville, North Carolina-based bluegrass band, The Steep Canyon Rangers. These young guns have caused quite a stir on the bluegrass scene, helped by the fact that they seem to be constantly touring, (there's youthful stamina for you), and last year they were voted Emerging Artist of the Year by the International Bluegrass Music Association.

They are about to release their second album on Rebel Records next week and it's a glorious blend of bluegrass and honky town, with enough swing to get you jigging round the kitchen. These were the most downtempo songs I could find on the album, which should give you a clue as to how much they go for it. Listen the lyrics for the melancholy, though, folks.

Listen - The Steep Canyon Rangers - Desperate and Blue
Listen - The Steep Canyon Rangers - Be Still Moses

Buy it and listen to a few more MP3s on their website.
Lots more North Carolina goodness at the marvellous The Oak Room.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Lonesome Is Three - it's our birthday

Well folks, Lonesome Music is three years old today. I think this makes us relatively old hands at this lark. I've described our site as being a public extension of an ongoing conversation that my brother Howard and I have been having for about 20 years. Surprisingly, other people listen, seem to like it and some even join in.

It's been a good three years - a lonesome baby (Howard), a lonesome house (me), a lonesome jaunt to Spain, happy holidays, hundreds of gigs, a scary low and many, many highs. We've made new acquaintances, learnt some new stuff and heard and shared a lot of really good music.

When you get involved in this blogging business, people ask why you do it and who you write for, yourself or your readers? Well, it doesn't really apply here - whatever rubbish I write, I know Howard will read every word and encourage me to write more. And vice versa. And that pretty much says it all, really.

Happy birthday to us. It's a laugh, isn't it?

Listen - The Arlenes - Lonely Won't Leave Me Alone (Buy)
Listen - Shelagh McDonald - Lonely King (Buy)
Listen - Beck - Lonesome Tears (Buy)
Listen - Billy Bragg and Wilco - At My Window Sad and Lonely (Buy)Listen - Gruff Rhys - Lonesome Words (Buy)
Listen - Richard Hawley - Lonely Night (Buy)
Listen - Ricky Nelson - Lonesome Town (Buy)
Listen - Waylon Jennings - Lonesome, On'ry and Mean (Buy)

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Singing Cowboys - Riders in the Sky

First of all, I love Riders in the Sky in a completely non-ironic way. Secondly, you should too. The first time I heard of them was when they brought the house down at the Katrina benefit at the Grand Ole Opry, so then imagine my delight when they popped up a few days later at Dollywood. Yep, those were good times on a good holiday.

Riders In The Sky are completely charmingly, massively entertaining and have pretty much single-handedly revitalized the Western (as opposed to country and western) genre since they formed in 1977. They are re-releasing their 1996 album, Public Cowboy #1: The Music of Gene Autry, complete with four bonus cuts and new liner notes, as it's 100 years since Public Cowboy #1, Gene Autry, was born. Any excuse to hear some good old fashioned western cowboy tunes again, I say. Ranger Doug, aka the Governor of the Great State of Rhythm, was kind enough to answer our lonesome questions...

Q. What distinguishes Western music from Country and Western?
A. Country music is often about feeling sorry for yourself, getting drunk, and hitting on your neighbor's wife. Western music is about free life and fresh air and hitting on your neighbor's sheep.

Q. What's your favourite kind of Ranger?
a) Texas Ranger
b) Park Ranger
c) Glasgow Ranger
d) Power Ranger
A. Smokey the Bear

Q. Where can our lonesome readers go to hear some more fine yodelling?
A. I can only recommend my guru, Elton Britt. Buy all you can, he is the master

Q. Do you think that the element of humour in your shows detracts from or adds to the music?
A. I don't know if it adds or detracts from the music, but it certainly has given us a 30 year career!

Q. What's your favourite Riders in the Sky song?
A. When Payday Rolls Around

Q. What is the least amount of money that you would recommend spending on a pair of boots?
A. Buy low, sell high

And the all-important lonesome question…

Q. What is the band's favourite cheese?
A. Joey's Polka smile.

Listen - Riders in the Sky - Take Me Back to My Boots and Saddle
Listen - Riders in the Sky - Mexicali Rose
Listen - That Silver Haired Daddy of Mine (for our Dad).

Buy it here.
Check out their joyous webpage.

Learn more about the Cowboy Code and busy some fabulously embarrassing baby cowboy outfits at Gene Autry’s store here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Hem - the part where you let go

Hem will always have a special place in my heart - the one they share with the cowboy junkies' first two albums. The purity of the voice and the subtle male vocal that underpins it along with the frightening musicianship make listening at once comforting and faintly nostalgic.

Listen: hem - The part where you let go

I'm not sure where you can buy the EP from, but there's more info here

I bought the album this comes from (Bavarian Fruit Bread) for my wife years ago, but I don't think she's given it much of a listen, she prefers the Mazzy star of among my swan. Since my son was born we haven't had a lot of trouble going to sleep, so listening opportunities for albums are limited to those moments when you need to hear Ride it On one more time, or marvel in the shimmy of the only truly gothic tambourine I can think of. My wife and I saw them at the Union Chapel in Islington, London - a cavernous church, in which they made a lovely sound whilst Hope hid behind her hair.

Listen: Hope Sandoval and the Warm Inventions feat. Bert Jansch - Butterfly Mornings

Buy it

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A little Porter, a little Dolly

Enough with the redemption, how about a song written by Johnny Cash about his/Porter's stay in the Parkview asylum? Porter Wagoner's new(ish) album - the wagonmaster plays it straight, there are no concessions to Cash-style covers of recent songs. The few spoken asides and stories do nothing but add to the last man standing status Porter has. I find myself thinking it's a shame he doesn't make some new songs his own because he's still in fine voice, he has the gravitas to carry it off and he's very obviously still an entertainer. Stubborn to the end and I wouldn't really want it any other way.

Tricky to see on such a small scale, but that's Porter there in the blue -click to enlarge a bit (thanks Mel for your holiday snaps!)

Listen: Porter Wagoner - Committed to Parkview

Buy it


Spot the difference: likeness

It doesn't seem fair to link Porter and Dolly together for the rest of their lives. I can think of a few old acquaintances from way-back I'd rather not be spoken of in the same breath. That is however not going to stop me posting my favorite track from Halos and Horns. When I first heard this I mistook it to be a frank acceptance of her not having children herself, but reading her explanation of the song makes it from a time that that probably wasn't her intention.

..It’s at least 35 years old, but it’s never been on a record. ..It had to have been right when I first came to Nashville [in 1964], because there were other songs on that tape that were written before I even left home.

Listen: Dolly Parton - Not for me

Buy it

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Welcome to the thousands of new readers we appear to have gained from

I was talking to Beth about the soulsavers album the other day, we both agreed that we hadn't given it enough time. Well it's been on repeat most of the weekend and although far from perfect (it has a few tracks that sound too much like the Sopranos theme and there's not enough pedal steel), it contains some absolutely great songs - uplifting, joyous even but always tinged with regret. When I first heard Revival I realised it was the best songs I'd heard all year, sounding like REM's sublime Country Feedback (that's those Em, G, D, C cowboy chords, no we won't be tabbing any songs) with Mark Lanegan singing a Spiritualized tune.

Listen: soulsavers - revival
Listen: soulsavers - spiritual

Buy it

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Midlake - Bloody Marvellous

I went to see Midlake at a packed Irish Centre last night - great mixed audience, including whole families, indie kids and lots of beards. I think it is the best gig I've been to this year so far. I was trepidatious about how they would manage to recreate their big and dense sound live, but they completely blew my socks off. So much noise from one little stage. Superb harmonies, twirly bits, only one guitar solo and all manner of banter - it was ace. They've reclaimed the Chemical Brothers song that Tim Smith has contributed vocals to - The Pills Won't Help You (lots of versions doing the rounds on hype machine) and very lovely it was too. And best of all, they seem like a smashing bunch of lads - they even said that they'd done the bingo earlier on that afternoon.

Listen: Midlake - van Occupanther
Listen: Midlake - Branches


Buy The Trials of Van Occupanther

Andrew Bird was one of the supporting acts - his Roger Whitaker/Rufus Wainwright/KT Tunstall/Jeff Buckley mix (yes really) got a mixed reaction from the crowd. I've given the album a few listens but certainly couldn't eat a whole one live. Go and sample it for yourself over at Speed of Dark.

And if you like the Midlake track, give this a whilrl and let me know if you can hear the link my brain made. **Warning - no steel guitar**

Listen - The Divine Comedy - When the Lights Go Out All Over Europe

Monday, July 09, 2007

Mandolin goodness - Chris Thile solo album

Kicking myself for not seeing Nickel Creek live, I sought solace in Chris Thile's latest solo album called How to Grow a Woman from the Ground. Not being familiar with his personal situation I'd say it's fairly definitely a breakup record. The mandolin is positively restrained in places, beautifully played but imbued with a melancholy typified by the track posted below.

Listen: Chris Thile - You're an Angel, and I'm Gonna Cry

Buy it


Friday, June 29, 2007

Blanche - murky, but good

I first saw Blanche when they supported The Handsome Family at the ever-great City Varieties a few years ago and I can honestly say it was one of the best gigs I have ever been to. Proper laugh-out-loud funny gags, husband/wife/boy/girl vocals and gorgeous songs about really ugly things. I hear that some of our readers saw them when they supported The White Stripes and I imagine the vibe was the same. I certainly hope you had as good a time as I did.

So what a delight to see Blanche headline last night. They were superb but the whole evening was marred by a frankly appalling sound system/engineer at the Cockpit. It was desperately murky at the start of the gig and didn't get too much clearer all night. It's such a pity as the lyrics are a key part of their sound. Anyways, in the end, the power of a steel guitar and banjo won out and a good time was had by all - there was a group of lads having a bit of a spiritual experience by the looks of it. Manly do-si-dos all round. See if these don't get you up and dancing.

Listen - Blanche - I'm Sure of It
Listen - Blanche - What This Town Needs

Buy the new album, Little Amber Bottles, for a bargain tenner.

Look at their beautiful website. Even if you’re not a fan, your eyes will thank you. I also recommend getting on their mailing list for a quarterly dose of witty goth americana to cheer up your working day.

More quirky loveliness on their MySpace page.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

dead heart bloom

Dead Heart Bloom are giving away their new album Chelsea Diaries, as well as their self titled debut on their offical website. Both albums are worth a listen, with Eric Matthews/Cardinal (both of those ridiculously cheap on amazon btw) Classic country-pop that bubbles along nicely with lyrics that don't induce toe-curling or boredom. These are from Chelsea Diaries:

Listen: Dead Heart Bloom - Who Will You Love
Listen: Dead Heart Bloom - Someday our time will come


Monday, June 25, 2007

Hayward Williams - Another Sailor's Dream

One of our kind readers has recommended Hayward Williams to us as he’s been doing a quick tour stint with No River City, who we posted about last week. It’s a real pleasure to hear from you lot about good things – it’s one of the reasons we do this. More is more, right? So, onwards…

You’ll like this - a slice of americana with a good healthy dose of bluegrass and some Van in there, too. The classic lonesome ingredients are present and correct - pedal steel, a harmonica, dobro and a whole lot of guitars.

Listen - Problems with Hemingway

It’s far more Dylan than I normally go for, and the lyrics sound like they’ve come straight out of the 1984 lyric generator, but it is has a tender charm that is quite irresistable. And it has a cute talky bit at the beginning and I’m always a sucker for that.

Listen – Redwoods

This is Hayward’s new single, and it’s more of a folk rocking rootsy stomper (technical term, obviously). It’s a bit Whiskeytown, more melodic Wilco, maybe a bit Springsteen; I’d recommend it for the harmonica action alone.

Buy the new album, Another Sailor’s Dream, here

More information on his website, or have a squizz at the ubiquitous MySpace.