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.