Sunday, December 21, 2008

When You Awake

In an audacious move to thwart the urge to list the year's best of, here's been the most listened to blog mixtapes of the year by a very country mile - When You Awake is over there on the left in the blogroll, but if you haven't sampled the delights of their previous artist cover compilations try the latest - Merle Haggard Goes Twang, just click the title of the compilation beneath his biog.

btw. 1. Fleet Foxes, 2. Dennis Wilson. Everything else is just noise.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Davy Graham - Ballad of the sad young men

Responsible for at least two of the best guitar albums ever - Folk, Blues and Beyond and Folk Roots, New Routes, I was greatly saddened to hear that he died following lung cancer yesterday. I was introduced to him following exposure to first Nick Drake and then John Martyn, both of whom I understand were avid apostles. Together the three of them have served to inform my own playing over the last 20 years, with Davy being by far the most wilful and difficult to get to grips with. I think in part this is simply because he refused to stay within any sort of comfort zone. Fiercely intelligent, I think I would have been too scared to have guitar lessons - not practicing wouldn't have been an option.
I also love the fact that he was so immaculately dressed (not everyone can get away with a sombrero) when all around him were hippies in various states of dishevelment.
In interviews and on record he gave the impression he was always studying one or more exotic branches of string based music ripe for assimilation into his repertoire, but I've posted the very first of his songs I heard.

Listen: Davy Graham - ballad of the sad young men


Guardian Obituary

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Take down notices & clearing out the server

We've just received our second take-down notice in as many weeks for posts stretching back to last New Year/Easter. Frankly we're struggling to understand why Connie Francis's representatives have it in for us...

Anyway, I will be clearing out the server of mp3s posted before October this year this coming Friday, just so you know.

Monday, December 08, 2008

Grantura - Land of the Big Skies

Another honorable mention goes to Grantura for their rather-too-jolly-to-post album In Dreams & Other Stories. It really is uplifting stuff, so uplifting I've spent since August trying to figure out which song to post to recommend the album. In the end I've gone for their Broken-Arrow of a track called Land of the Big Skies for maximum enjoyment in a single track, all 5minutes 16 seconds of it.

Listen: Grantura - Land of the Big Skies

Buy it


Monday, December 01, 2008

The Acorn - Flood Pt2

Sorry for dropping off the radar for a while there, Beth has no net access and I've just been too tired to post. We discussed our end of year best of list last night, I'm not sure we're going to have one this year as there have only been two records I'd recommend everyone to buy and both will be all over everyone else's lists, which is hardly the point of our normal round-up now is it?

There are however a number of honorable mentions, one of whom is the acorn, whose glory hope mountain is a welcome relief from the credit crunch radio. Having fallen for them and their math-folk on Tin Fist, particularly their 'brokered heart', which we posted ages ago, the new album offers more clever and beautifully delicate songs in the same vein.

Listen: The Acorn - Flood Pt2

Buy It

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Rob St.John

Recorded in a chirch in Edinburgh, Rob St. John (I like a man with punctuation in his surname) follows nicely on from our previous Paul Quinn post. Which is high praise indeed when you think about it.
This comes from the Like Alchemy EP, in which harmoniums, saws and guitars creak and groan into a musical balm and is simply the best and most surprising thing I've heard in ages. Rob is playing in Edinburgh(see the MySpace link) so get out an see him if you get the chance.

Listen: Rob St.John - Like Alchemy


Friday, November 07, 2008

Jay Jay Pistolet - Oh Caroline

Just a quick post, here's a little song that came my way today. Nothing fancy, no tricky time signatures or anything that would have been out of place in the last 50 years of popular music, but just right for a soothing end to the week.

Listen: Jay Jay Pistolet - Oh Caroline


Saturday, October 25, 2008

In a cabin with Arthur Adams

It's been a long time since the opening song on an album has made me swear, but this one did. Good lord, it's a belter - make sure you listen right to the end.

Arthur Adam's album is part of the very intriguing In a Cabin With series, which plonks a couple of musicians who haven't worked together in a remote cabin (normally in Scandanavia somewhere) for a week and then makes the result downloadable for free. Those closer to me will know how much this appeals.

Nothing like a bit of splendid isolation to clear mind, body and soul. And it certainly sounds like it worked some big sky magic here.

Listen: Arthur Adams - Things are Moving

Find out more about the project or download the whole album here.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Brent Amaker and the Rodeo

Wipe away those tears all, it's the weekend and time for some rollicking good times.

And I can't think of a better soundtrack than Brent Amaker and the Rodeo who are plying their pitch-black honky tonk wares in various pitch-black honky tonks as we speak.

There's an album out next month - with the fantastic title of Howdy Do! - we'll certainly be keeping an eye out for it.

Listen: Brent Amaker and the Rodeo - When Love Gets to a Man

Listen: Brent Amaker and the Rodeo - Girls are Good for Lots of Things

Buy the first album, and stream some more songs on from the new one on their MySpace page.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Another Lie Down and a Cry

This could have been a Tindersticks double header, but I can't find my copy of No More Affairs (7", so I won't have sold that one). Here we have perhaps the most English possible heartbreak song. The sentiment is worthy of a Graham Greene novel (you know the one). He sings that he can live with the fact that his lover might be cheating on him, and he doesn't really want to know, just as long as they don't leave. Sound like any other song you know?

Listen: The Tindersticks - The Not Knowing

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Songs that make you want to lie down on the floor and cry

Roll up, roll up, who wants to play a new game? Or at least join in with an occasional series?

Howard and I have just spent the last half an hour on the phone talking about songs that make us want to lie down on the floor and cry. Obviously American Music Club feature very highly - we never did quite make it past the relentless sadness of Everclear (in oh so may ways) - but this is a game that's going to keep on rolling. What we're after are songs that make us both suck the air in between our teeth, wince slightly and go 'ooh, that's a corker'. And if that sounds like an invitation, it's meant to.

Starting us off with a baritone to bring you to your knees:

Listen: Paul Quinn and the Independent Group - Will I Ever Be Inside of You?

Over to you, Team Lonesome - feel free to contribute. And if anyone has got a copy of the full album, then please get in touch. Mine's on tape and Howard sold his vinyl copy to keep him in gin and fags.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Like one on a lonesome road

Remember this when we all admitted to welling up on public transport when the right (or wrong) song pops up?

Well, the commute isn't getting any easier now we're drawing into autumn, is it? Howard and I spoke early doors on Thursday and both admitted to feeling a bit on a misty morning, but as Catherine Howe has only just been posted up here, I'll resist the urge. Instead, let's have some Lurlene-like bluegrass and country classics to celebrate and commiserate life on the road.

Listen: Mike Auldridge - Trains Make Me Lonesome

Listen: Red Simpson - Roll, Truck, Roll

Buy Mike Auldridge here, or some fine Red here.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Picking with the kinfolk

We are lucky to be surrounded by love and laughter in our family.
I mean, hands up, who here plays 'bands' at the weekends? Most of us, in one way or another, I'd guess. But I bet not many of us would throw ourselves into it with such aplomb as the Lonesome gang (junior version). Top marks for the dress-up, D - not many girls can wear a rock cape with such conviction.

One of us is 10 today. Happy birthday Q. XXX

And in honour of our babies, in age order, here's a Lonesome set list:

Listen: Jarvis Cocker - Quantum Theory (Buy)

Listen: Fleet Foxes - Oliver James (Buy)

Listen: Jesse Malin - Aftermath (Buy)

Listen: Isobel Campbell and Mark Lanegan - Something To Believe (Buy)

Listen: Ronald Binge - Sailing By (Buy)

Listen: Fionn Regan - Noah (Buy)

Friday, September 26, 2008


We're having an Indian Summer here in the UK, I've just got back from vacation in Wales and we spent every day on the beach making sandcastles and paddling in the sea. This kind of weather always makes me want to whip out the 12 string rickenbacker (360/12MG), get a band together and just jangle some classic countryrock in a Byrds style.

The first few tracks I heard from A.H.A.B. occupy the same kind of ground as some other bands soundtracking my Summer - Grantura and the Tailors. Both are British bands doing a fine line in classic feelgood songwriting. Having said that, the CDBaby samples of the remainder of the album shows plenty of variety and considerably more edge to sustain interest over the coming Autumn & Winter too.

I asked for something downbeat to post and they sent this gentle song to soothe your Friday afternoon away:

Listen: A.H.A.B. - Crows

Buy it

Grantura album review coming soon, as soon as I can pick which song to post.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Chris Flew - Kingston Bridge

That's Kingston Bridge as in Glasgow, by the way. An incongruous choice of a title - this is about as far away from an impersonal motorway (cold, grey and long) as you can get.

Chris Flew writes and makes impeccable Scottish americana folk, as well as doing all kinds of creative filmy things. He's opened for lonesome types Laura Veirs and Damien Jurado, among others, and that alone should be enough to get you all to take a listen.

It's a lo-fi swoon of an album, full of twang, a bit of slide, and hushed vocals. Just the ticket for indie kids who are on the turn towards the country light... go on, you know you want to.

Listen: Chris Flew - Audrey

Listen: Chris Flew - R+J

More mp3s and tour dates on the official site.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Annie Keating - Belmont

It's been a bit of a week all round, hasn't it? Let's knock it on the head with a spot of Annie Keating. This is good stuff for a Friday - warm and tender, easy listening in the best of ways.

Belmont is not only a lonesome Rosebud of a name, more importantly (to you lot, anyway) it's a proper slab of big-hearted americana.

Twangy joy with some cracking slide guitar - think Bonnie Raitt crossed with The Comforters. Nice.

Listen: Annie Keating - For the Taking

Listen: Annie Keating - Belmont


Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Of heaven and home

I've written about this before and here we are again.

Post-holiday Sunday blues, a conversation about will-making and then an aggressively sentimental radio programme have left me feeling the call of home. Time for a trip to the seaside, I think.

Listen: The Lonesome Sisters - Going Home Shoes (Buy)

Listen: Dennis Wilson - Carry Me Home

Listen: Patti Griffin - Long Ride Home (Buy)

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Just a quick post today, but this is what lonesomemusic is all about - this is from the Just the two of us album, that i don't seem to be able to find anywhere selling, although I'm sure it's on one of the many compilation albums somewhere.

Listen: Dolly Parton & Porter Wagoner - the Party

Monday, September 01, 2008

Jordan T West - Love, An Asylum Amongst the Convulsions

This album has quietly nestled its way to my heart in the same way that Leatherbag did last year. It's revving up to be one of my favourite records of the year.

Good lord, it's a raw and unflinching look at the joys and horror of love, all to a bittersweet boy/girl vocal, with added cello. Approach with caution. Delicious.

Listen: Jordan T West - Heart Hurts

Listen: Jordan T West - The Procreation Song


Saturday, August 23, 2008

Donna Beasley - Rise Above

We posted about Donna Beasley way back in January and it's high time we reminded you of how good she is. Donna is out and about touring, so keep an eye on her calendar if you're lucky enough to be in or around Nashville. Sigh.

Here's a demo that didn't make it onto the Good Samaritan album because it was too personal. As Donna says, it's the song she "sang the day I walked into my husband's recording studio - a musical record of the day we met. As he likes to say, that song got me a ring and a house. Ha". Irresistible.

Listen: Donna Beasley - Rise Above

Listen: Donna Beasley - Cotton (on the album)


Keep an eye on tour dates on the official site.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Beachwood Sparks ride out again

San Diego CityBeat has a piece on the Beachwood Sparks reunion for SP20 and best of all about a new album slated for 2009. Long term readers will know that any swirly mix of Beach Boys, the Band, a bit of Byrds and some Laurel Canyon vibes with pedal steel ticks about all my criteria for a lonesome post. Here's the very last thing they left us with - the last track on the excellent Make the robots cry

Listen: Beachwood Sparks - Ghost Dance 1492

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Ruth Minnikin - Folk Art

Some strange, stark and lovely songs from Ruth Minnikin. Do any of you know her from The Guthries? I can see why people compare her to Leonard Cohen and Gillian Welch - it's the mix of an unflinching gaze and a spot of playfulness. You don't often get heartbreak, banjo, cracked vocals and french horn all in one go, do you?

Recorded in just a couple of days, Folk Art is a 30 minute sprint through some of the most inventive and affecting music I've heard for ages. Recommended.

Listen: Ruth Minnikin - Stairs

Listen: Ruth Minnikin - Song Mill

I can't find anywhere where you can buy this online, which is a real shame as it comes in a hand-printed canvas case with hand-written lining - I think you can only buy it at gigs. I'll keep looking and, in the meantime, do yourself a favour and download some more songs here.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Foy Vance

My friend Andy plays in a band called Van Tramp, they play classic rock and have a great singer who thankfully doesn't sound quite as much like Rod Stewart as he used to.
They are way too upbeat for posting here, but Foy Vance's vocals reminded me of them when I first heard his songs and he has quite a few lonesome worthy tracks, my favorite of which I'm posting here. Taken from his album Hope, an album that has an astonishingly strong first half and a second half about which I'm undecided, Foy manages to conjure up a bit of the old Van himself. His obviously love for american music in all its guises combined with some great playing, arrangements and vocals make it all very impressive.

Listen: Doesn't take a whole day


Buy it

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Lonesome Is Four - It's Our Birthday

Well here we are, four years on and still managing to keep ourselves and a few (hundred) others entertained. What am I on about? We've been having this conversation between ourselves for a good couple of decades by now and there's plenty more where this came from.

So, long live the mix of rambling, introspection, in-jokes and genuine love of music that keeps this place ticking over. Happy Birthday to us. It's a laugh, isn't it?

Listen: Dillard and Clark - Four Walls (Buy)

Listen: The Three City Four - Across The Hills (Buy)

Listen: Karine Polwart - Four Strong Walls (Buy)

Listen: Bright Eyes - Four Winds (Buy)

Listen: James William Hindle - Birthday Candles (Buy)

Monday, July 28, 2008

John Phillips - April Anne and Mississippi

Neil Halstead has a new album out sometime soon, there's a taster mp3 called Paint a face doing the rounds at all the best mp3blogs if you'd care to look. Listening to it (and admiring Neil's impressive facial hair) reminded me of John Phillips' April Anne - the first track on his John the Wolfking of LA album. Recorded just after the Mamas and Papas split with steel guitarist Buddy Emmons and guitar legend James Burton this beautifully wistful album offers a mix of steel guitar, Elton-like piano parts, confused beautiful people and images of the sea.

Listen: John Phillips - April Anne

Listen John Phillips - Malibu People

Buy it

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Dave Hosking - Apple

Dave Hosking is from Sydney, or at least he says that's where he is at the moment, but his accent makes it difficult to believe he's not english. This is from the debut Marmalade Hill EP, unfortunately Dave forgot to tell me how exactly you are supposed to actually get hold of it, but maybe he'll add it in the comments.
This is classy folk-pop, kind of like the Nizlopi in that there's definitely cross-over potential here, the sort that happens when Grey's Anatomy or something more hip picks up on a track. I was reading just the other day about the TV series and indie films that are proving better at launching smaller artists, something that I found out that Alexi Murdoch benefitted from, although I'm still waiting for the Shins to change my life Natalie, thanks.

Listen: Dave Hosking - Apple


I'm going to assume that this Dave Hoskings is not to be confused with the other Melbourne based Dave Hosking who I found whilst tryin to find something more to write, whose substantial body of work seems worth investigating in its own right - you can listen to some of his previous work on that website.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

John Paul Keith & The One Four Fives

A man blessed with three first names is rare indeed, and this one is armed with what looks like a 52 telecaster a crack team of ace musicians and the kind of big love of honky tonk songwriting shared by lonesome favourites Two Dollar Pistols. Check the live session out on that link below, this is a band that I very much want to see if they make it to the UK.
They sent me an email informing me they were going to release a 7" record, you can buy it on that link down there. In an ideal world it would be one with a huge centre punch for a jukebox in a bar or diner somewhere dry.

Listen: John Paul Keith & The One Four Fives - Otherwise

Buy it

Live-in-the-studio set for

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Catherine Howe

This was the soundtrack as I walked into the centre of London. It was early, there were very few people around and the cool edge to the air had yet to be stifled by the July Sun. If it had been Paris people would have been hosing down the pavements and running into patisseries to buy croissants, and I'm sure they were doing that in the more swinging bits of London, but where I was they were collecting the bins and standing in doorways having a fag. I wonder if Catherine has to do that now...
Listen: Catherine Howe - On a misty morning

Buy it

Friday, July 18, 2008

Ed Laurie

This is the year of two revivals in my mind, Joni Mitchell & Leonard Cohen. Any song that brings both of these to mind has got to worth a little of your time surely? Add to that a little Jose Gonzalez and the fact that you'll need headphones to hear the various shifting textures going on underneath what I initially took to be a very simple arrangement, like recorders there's not enough clarinets in rock if you ask me.
A fellow survivor of the toilet circuit in London (or so his biog says), but you'd never know it to hear it.
Listen: Albert

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Felice Brothers

Beth and I watched a fantastic compilation of Johnny Cash's TV shows from the late sixties/seventies and the standout was undoubtedly the songs that felt like cowboy films in their own right. The Felice brothers new(ish) album is just like that, end to end, cinematic storytelling. This is seriously great music and lyrics, real art. The arrangements (check the piano intro), the instrumentation (great trombone) and the turn of phrase (I'm still being checked by the head hanging in the lobby).

Listen: The Greatest Show on Earth

and check this one too:

Listen: The Felice Brothers - Wonderful Life

and buy it

Friday, July 11, 2008

Euros Childs - Chops

I love Euros Childs. But I have it on good authority (Kate) that I'm not allowed to marry him and bear his children because the world isn't ready for that amount of curly hair. At the very least, apparently we'd have to have some sanction in place from some kind of higher power. Hey ho.

Chops passed me by a couple of years ago but I picked it up in the jumble-like Zavvi sale for a measly pound (yep, a whole one of your English pounds) a few weeks back and it's been in altenate rotation with Pacific Ocean Blue ever since. There is more than a hint of the lovelorn summer breeze about it, too.

Have a listen to Costa Rita - maybe it's growing up in a seaside town and knowing the winter emptiness, maybe it's the flute, but it something about it really gets to me. And it's possibly one of the best songs about a peanut seller I've ever heard, second only to Peanuts, Big Jumbo Ones (or at least that's what it was called in our house - let's hope someone out there knows what I'm on about other than you, Howard).

Circus Time is a winner too - Euros on piano and his sister on violin. It's enough to make you pack up for the hills of Wales, pronto. It can't be any wetter than here.

Listen: Euros Childs - Costa Rita

Listen: Euros Childs - Circus Time

Buy at Amazon for a fiver, or trawl the shelves at the dreaded Zavvi.

Friday, July 04, 2008

Rachel Unthank and the Winterset

There has never been a better time to be a folk musician, a genre that thrives on the live circuit and word of mouth. In a world of mp3s and internet cottage industries there are an extraordinary set of artists making extraordinary music right now, and many of them are from one branch of folk or another. Artists that aren't afraid to make themselves available directly to not only their fans, but everyone with an internet connection. I have heard more excellent folk albums this year already than I have in the past five, and Rachel Unthank's is amongst the very, very best.

Listen - Rachel Unthank - Blackbird

Listen: Rachel Unthank - White Thorn


Buy it

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Close harmony twangy goodness

This time last week, I was in a small and silent venue in the heartland of Leeds, part of a crowd waiting with baited breath for the next song from Fleet Foxes. They were amazing and I've been mulling over what to post about them ever since.

Well, in typical contrary fashion, I've decided that there is already far too much of their stuff doing the online rounds - the album and the EPs are all superb and you owe it to yourself and the band to go out and buy them.

Instead, I'm going to share of their elder musical brothers - prodigious vocal talent, loud and close harmony - lovely.

Nashville Bluegrass Band (with The Fairfield Four) - Roll Jordan Roll

Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young - Find the Cost of Freedom

Buy Fleet Foxes, CSNY, or Nashville Bluegrass Band.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Shelagh McDonald - Stargazer

Is there a more perfect name for a primary school teacher than Mrs. Eden? It is perfect, isn't it? And it's also Lonesome shorthand between Howard and I to describe a certain timbre of vintage lady folk. And it's normally a sure sign of quality.

So, onto the point.

Why don't more people know about Shelagh McDonald? Hers is such an intriguing story - having made two superb albums in the late 60s, she then promptly disappeared in 1971 for the best part of 25 years, before resurfacing in the Scotland Daily Mail office a few years back. Move over, Vashti. Beat that for quality control.

I think it's really beautiful - let us know what you think.

Listen: Shelagh McDonald - Sweet Sunlight

Listen: Shelagh McDonald - Stargazer


Tuesday, June 10, 2008

34 years and 10 stone

I must be getting forgetful, so I can't thank anyone specifically, but someone gave me a copy of Alexi Murdoch's album Time without consequence, which having listened to it quite a lot recently I'd guess that I'd obviously been playing them Nick Drake and John Martyn and they had reciprocated.

Anyway, months later it pops up again whilst on my way to work in the car (hurrah for built-in mp3 players) and has become a permanent fixture of late.

Knowing next to nothing about him I trawled the net to find the album is from 2006 and nothing since apart from a few live bootlegs from last year so hopefully there'll be some more soon.

I hear Nick Drake & John Martyn with the soft cashmere touch of Mark Eitzel's voice, and a good looking young man to boot. Since I don't have a copy of John Martyn's Church with one bell, I'll have to rely on someone's charity to post it in the comments...are you still out there Bosh?

Listen: Alexi Murdoch - Orange Sky

Listen: Mark Eitzel - Western Sky

Listen: Nick Drake - Northern Sky

Alexi Murdoch - Official
Mark Eiztel - Official
Nick, with an interview withe Kathryn Williams, although there's no end of sites that have been offering Nick Drake love for a lot longer.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Liz Tormes - Limelight

I've been listening to this album for months now - it has crept under my skin in the same way that Mindy Smith's Long Island Shores did, but this heartbreak is less raw and bloody, more knowing and deft in its cynicism. A couple of famous names pop up too - Teddy Thompson and Jason Molina, fact fans.

Self-produced and self-released, it's dark melancholy alright - sample line: "happiness is fleeting" - but manages still be quite pretty.

Innocence and experience, indeed.

Listen: Liz Tormes - Black Luck

Listen: Liz Tormes - Maybe You Won't


Friday, June 06, 2008

The Ballad of Sneaky Pete

The Ballad of Sneaky Pete: A Guide to Country Rock’s Greatest Pedal Steel Player is up on Gibson's website, under their 'lifestyle' section. Really it's just an excuse to post loads of youtube clips, most of which I hadn't seen before. So if you fancy a bit of pedal steel in your Friday with added Gram goodness go check it out.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Deke Dickerson - King of the Whole Wide World

Howard, I've found the perfect soundtrack for this summer's barbeque.

Readers, what do you play when confronted with several overtired children wanting an after-hours kid rave (complete with glowsticks)? Well, I think we'll be testing out a spot of Deke Dickerson and the Ecco-fonics.

Country soul, rockabilly hotrod bluegrass surf - it's bound to be a family favourite. Highly recommended.

Listen: Deke Dickerson - Make Way for a Better Man

Listen: Deke Dickerson - Do You Think Of Me?

Armless musicians, gospel midgets and one man bands a-plenty on Deke's official site. Yes, really. I mean come on, how can you resist a link like that?

Buy, on vinyl too. Or maybe just treat yourself to a read about his double neck guitar.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Christian Williams - songs from his new-ish album of gothic prairie music

Purveyor of the finest gothic prairie music (country is too generic, but prairie - now we're getting specific), Christian Williams was kind enough to send us some more of his songs from his new album called 'To the Trees'. He sent it quite a while back, and I've been mulling them over ever since. One guitar with his voice sounding like he could have had a career writing/being covered for/by Johnny Cash, the other a banjo led ditty which doesn't help with the GAS.

I've been listening to a lot of clawhammer just lately, but it drives the wife mad and so remains a private pleasure between me and my headphones.

Listen: Christian Williams - Lake Effect
Listen: Christian Williams - the Recluse Anna Brown

Official - you can stream the whole album from here.

Friday, May 30, 2008

Southern Tenant Folk Union

We've posted this lot last year and they've got a spankingly good new album out. It's full of clawhammer and fiddle and melancholic bluegrass. Still seems incongruous that they hail from London. They seem to be permanently on tour (have a look at their MySpace), and are playing the very nice Luminaire in London on 21 June for a Club Ugly night, which sounds like a good time.

Howard, sadly, is no closer to being allowed a banjo.

Listen: Southern Tenant Folk Union - Never Got the Best of Me

Listen: Southern Tenant Folk Union - Here In The Dock


Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dennis Wilson POB to be reissued at last

Firstly apologies for not posting much, work is proving very demanding. Anyway, there's a head of media hype/steam building up to the release of Dennis Wilson's solo album Pacific Ocean Blue. Long term readers will know that I'm a sucker for a bit of mid-period Beach boys, this article in the Guardian is one of the better ones - Richard Williams revisits the musical masterwork of former Beach Boy, Dennis Wilson (yes I know my writing leaves an awful lot to be desired).

Anyway I was going to post the 'masterwork' from the article - Only with you, but I realised that for me it's actually a different song that does it for me. Listening back to it again before posting also made me realise the deeper connection between spiritualized and the beach boys. Your comments are as always, most welcome.

Listen: Dennis Wilson - Carry Me Home

Friday, May 16, 2008

Getting a bit emotional at gigs

I'm still filling up on the train and now I've taken to doing it in public. I've been lucky enough to go to a couple of corking gigs this week and have had a bit of a moment at both of them.

Rounded off the most Scottish weekend of my life by going to see King Creosote and his brother, Ian, (stage name Pip Dylan and an utter delight), do an acoustic set on Monday in the Brudenell, which is probably not much bigger that your front room (hello american readers!). There's an intimacy about KC that is irresistable, especially when there's no band, only banter and lifelong in-jokes with his brother. Kenny's got a secret album out, a single on spacy blue vinyl and a new accordian. Swoon.
Listen: King Creosote - 678

And then off to the Leadmill for the majestic Iron and Wine. I was a bit worried about losing the layers of their sound in a bigger venue, especially after a noisy support from Bon Iver, but it was superb. Sam Beam makes it all look so effortless - astounding - and there was steel guitar and beauty a-plenty. They finished the set with an a cappella version of Flightless Bird that brought the place to its knees. Shivers and goosebumps all round. So, just on the off chance that you've yet to hear it, here is is again.
Listen: Iron and Wine - Flightless Bird, American Mouth

Friday, May 09, 2008

Silver Jews - Honk If You're Lonely

Howdy all,

Treated myself to a school night jaunt to see the mighty Silver Jews last night. They were utterly resplendent in matching suits, (love a band that makes an effort), tight, hilarious and, dare I say it, more than a bit funky. I wasn't expecting as much lounge lizardry - it could have been, ooh, Urge Overkill up there at times.

Until, of course, Dave Berman starts singing. What a legend.

They did a deal with the audience and played a set of half new and half old songs. New album sounds a corker. We didn't get this one though, so I'm sharing it here. Where else? Enjoy.

Listen: Silver Jews - Honk If You're Lonely


Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Kathryn Williams and Neill MacColl

A gentle song about the point at which a friendship develops into something more in the early hours of a party that is winding down.

The arrangement infers a musical intimacy with the vocals pitched perfectly in the moment of the song.

If I were sung to in that way and with that tone of voice I know what my decision would be.

Quite possibly the best song I've heard all year.

Listen:Kathryn Williams & Neill MacColl - Come with me


Buy it

Friday, April 25, 2008

Giant Bear

Let's have some cello-soaked melancholic americana for Friday, shall we? You know we're suckers for a bit of string action.

I've been meaning to post this lot up since last year and shame on me for not doing so earlier.

Giant Bear seem to be a collective of musicians and lost souls who make songs that manage to be both boot stomping and whimsical at the same time. It's like No River City meets Drive By Truckers by way of Nickel Creek. On the set of Earl. All in all, a rollicking good time.

Listen: Giant Bear - Devil on the Wall

Listen: Giant Bear - Nashville

Plenty more songs on the official site.

Friday, April 18, 2008

The Saddest Music In the World

Meanwhile over at Canada's magazine of the year The Walrus, they have a piece on The Saddest Music In the World with some great tracks to listen to.
We on the other hand are interested in lonesomeness.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Angus and Julia Stone - A Book Like This

Angus and Julia Stone are siblings from Sydney who make a really quite glorious sound, full of harmony, harmonica, steel guitar, brushed drums and, oh yes, a trumpet. I went to see them a couple of nights ago and came away quite smitten.

It's reminiscent of the delights of Ella Guru, with a boy/girl, folky multi-instrumental thing going on. What makes them stand out is that they are two concomitant halves and contribute equally to a kind of organic sounding whole. There's a real difference in the vocals - Angus is subtle and understated, whereas Julia is much more distinctive, with even a teeny tiny touch of Cranes (although in a totally charming and non-irritating way, promise). Oh, and he's the one with the beard.

This will soothe, charm and cheer you. Enjoy.

Listen: Angus and Julia Stone - Here We Go Again

Listen: Angus and Julia Stone - Bella

Do go and see them, highly recommended. Really, who can argue with a barefoot beauty in a tea dress, who also happens to play the trumpet? You'll swoon.

The album's not out here yet, but buy a copy at a gig like me, or from the official site, or if you can't help yourself, get it from Aussie resellers on amazon.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Malcolm Middleton - Love comes in waves

I've been listening to Malcolm's new album Sleight of Heart quite a lot this week. I was never really a fan of Arab Strap, but I've liked Malcolm's solo efforts.

This interview in the Londonist with Malcolm Middleton makes me like him even more. I like the honesty about his musical background, especially as the album has some of the fanciest fingerpicked guitar I've heard laid quite that bare in a long time. John Renbourn/Bert Jansch standard performances with non of that widdly Windham Hill nonsense. Here's a long track that shouldn't be dismissed in the first few seconds, there's a jouney to be gone on here, one worth taking.

Listen: Malcolm Middleton - Love comes in waves

Buy it


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Justin Rutledge - This too will pass

The yearning, that feeling that somehow makes desire seem too weak a term. Whether it's a material possession or someone, you are consumed with thoughts of possession, of ownership, of the happiness that will surely come your way if you give into temptation and spend the money, show your hand or some other part of your anatomy. But the rational side of you knows that it's best to hold tight to the arms of the chair like an astronaut in take-off, hanging on until they break free of the atmosphere, that this too will pass. Just lately I've been asked too many times to just go with my emotional and not my rational responses, I don't think psychiatry was built for the English, therapy certainly wasn't.

From his Man Descending album, here's Justin Rutledge. He's out supporting Kathleen Edwards, so you might see him live before I do.

Listen: Justin Rutledge - This too will pass

Buy it for an extortionate amount from amazon (or get it cheaper when it gets an offical UK release)


Monday, April 07, 2008

Carrie Rodriguez

I can't remember who recommended Carrie Rodriguez's album Seven Angels on a Bicycle to me, maybe I found it through the BBC, perhaps even one of those lists on Amazon. If it was someone that reads this blog I'd like to say thankyou.

The album has way more lonesome highlights than I feel comfortable posting here, so I'm just going to give you a flavour - you can hear it streaming at her website.

There's some wonderfully atmospheric guitar, sultry vocals and some barnstorming fiddle playing that brings to mind Lucinda Williams' fantastic Essence, but holds its own in terms of songs, which I think is a pretty big recommendation. The production is buffed to a high sheen, the arrangements tight as a gnat's chuff but there's enough redeeming realism and grit in each song to stop it becoming overly syrupy. The track 'Dirty leather' even manages to rewrite the velvet underground's venus in furs for a country audience and the skronking sax solos don't bring to mind either the musical crimes of the eighties or free jazz, for which I am very, very grateful. Enjoy.

Listen: Carrie Rodriguez - Seven Angels on a Bicycle
Listen: Carrie Rodriguez - He ain't Jesus


That's an epiphone mandobird she's playing there btw.

Much to my surprise John sent a nice email yesterday with the following update:
"Carrie's new album, She Ain’t Me will be mastered today in NYC. It will be released in the US and Canada on August 5th via Manhattan/BackPorch (EMI) & early next year in the UK, Europe, and Australia. Lucinda adds background vocals to a song (Carrie also played & sang background vocals on a track for Lucinda’s forthcoming new album, also coming out this August – I believe)."

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Throw Those Curtains Wide, One Day Like This a Year'd See Me Right

Just back from seeing Elbow and feel the need to share what I've learnt tonight:

- The Seldom Seen Kid is an even better album than you think it is
- Even in person, Richard Hawley feels a bit like an intruder
- The mirrorballs at the Poly can be really quite majestic
- Leeds loves Guy Garvey and he fucking loves us back
- We all know the words to 'I am H.A.P.P.Y'
- A surge of huge goodwill in the audience, miles away from the usual indie nonchalance, coupled with a sufficient amount of Guinness, make a snowy Sunday night seem quite magical
- Bowman is a fucking idiot
- Guy Garvey, in case you hadn't noticed, is a superstar.

Listen: Elbow - One Day Like This

Buy the latest album now; or just do yourself a huge favour and buy them all.

Easy like a Sunday morning

Tea, toast and something easy on the ears, please. Sunday mornings call for a particular kind of song, don't they? And these three do just the job. I don't have anything wise or witty to say about any of them, other than to recommend them as a good company for tea drinking, paper reading or kitchen dancing.

Listen: Dave Morrison - Times Like These

Listen: Rob Laufer - Backseat

Listen: Shane Alexander - Amsterdam

Buy Dave Morrison, Rob Laufer, or Shane Alexander

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Laughter and the love of friends

As the saying goes, a friend in the pub is worth a hundred on Facebook. And we're both lucky to have a friend who is not only a volcanic expert, but also a country fan, purveyor of a fine cuppa and a font of general knowledge. What a top girl.

Happy Birthday Mel.

Listen: Shooter Jennings - Let's Put the O Back in Country

Listen: Tom McRae - Walking2Hawaii

Buy yourself the Shooter Jennings, or the Tom McRae.