Monday, February 28, 2005

A Joe South tribute...

I met Rob Douglas many years ago, though it seems like yesterday. He came to work for me as many musicans seem to these days. I fear word's gotten out that I'm a big softie for letting guys leave and come back when it comes time for them to tour. Well, Rob was one fine bassist and eventually landed a gig working with Chuck Prophet. He played bass on tour for Prophet as well as doing recording work. Eventually Rob let on to me that he was working on a tribute to Joe South. South is a guitar slinger from Atlanta, Ga who's probably best known as the writer of "(I never promised you a) Rose Garden" made famous by Lynn Anderson as an inescapable AM radio hit. But South runs much deeper as I would find out. He was indeed a fine singer/songwriter probably in the class of contemporaries like Tom T Hall and Jimmy Webb.

Well, Rob has since moved to LA and makes a living as a full time musician. I no longer have to deal with him calling in sick (hungover?). But we've stayed in touch and he just gave me the completed The Joe South Tribute Record. It's good stuff. Filled with alt-country luminaries (Kelly Hogan, Chuck Prophet) as well as a who's-who of the San Francisco music scene (Oranger, Kelley Stoltz, Jesse Denatale, Stephanie Finch). The record is released on SF's Jack Pine Social Club. This is a great tribute record (I'm no big Joe South fan but the performances and bands are great) and ranks with some of my favorites like Real: The Tom T Hall Project and Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons. I'm posting 2 tracks by the ladies on the record. The Jack Pine Social Club doesn't yet have the record up for sale but keep an eye out they should soon. Amazon has some info about the record and the March 15 release date.

I can't commend Rob enough on all the hard work he put into bringing this project to fruition. Great music, great record.

Children - Stephanie Finch

The Greatest Love - Kelly Hogan

Thursday, February 24, 2005

M Ward...

Well, M Ward has finally released Transistor Radio and what a pleasure it is. I was a huge fan of his last record Transfiguration of Vincent and have been waiting for this record to drop for a long while. It's good stuff. M Ward is such an anachronism. He plays old time sounding music, and by that I mean steeped in the tradition of acoustic guitar work that's rooted in the delta blues. It feels like it's being broadcast from another time. But it's still very much about the present. This new record has a host of guest artists that read like a who's-who of the indie rock world. We're talking Jim James of My Morning Jacket, Mike Koykendall of the Old Joe Clarkes, Vic Chestnutt, Jenny Lewis of Rilo Kiley, Howe Gelb of Giant Sand, Rachel Blumberg of The Decemberists, Nick Luca.

Transistor Radio is a listening pleasure. A rare nod to the music that is really the foundation of so much rock music, while keeping a foot in the present.

Feel free to purchase at will.

2 of the 16 songs on Transistor Radio:

Fuel for Fire

Sweethearts on Parade. Originally popularised by Louie Armstrong in 1932.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Minus Story...

Minus Story sound a lot like Okkervil River. I like Okkervil River an awful lot. I like Minus Story. It's all like a well balanced equation isn't it. I've got a cold. My thumb is still sprained. I don't like typing right now. This song is from Minus Story's forthcoming EP called Heaven And Hell (I believe to be released March 1). The EP features a really creepy ghost story at the end. Really creepy. Minus Story is released on Jagjaguwar which has so many good bands on their roster that my head reels (oh wait...maybe that's the cold medicine). They also have many mp3's to listen to. Check it out.

From Heaven And Hell:

Heaven And Hell

Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Woes....

First off i've gotta give the props to the good robots over at Music For Robots who originally posted a song by The Woes about a month or ago. I was so taken by the smoldering, languid progression of the song and the lead singer's voice that I got in contact with said singer and he was nice enough to send me a copy of The Woes Coalmine EP. The thing's been in pretty heavy rotation for me since it arrived in the mail. Let me get this out the way right off the bat: yes, lead singer sounds very similar to Tom Waits. But really that statement is the easy way out. Lead singer Osei Essed is indeed deeply gravely, but he imbues his larnyx tearing style with a hell of a lot of soul. The 8 songs on Coalmine EP are hard to categorize. Is it alt-country? Delta Blues? Palace Brothers-esque balladry? Well, a little bit of all those things. And all those things done well. The songs progress slowly and deliberately, moving the way one does when trying to find your way through a dark hallway, feeling with your hands. But it's Essed's voice that's your guide, that you keep walking towards.

From The Woes Coalmine EP:


From Black Sand Recordings site:

Osei Essed - Pity

As near as I can tell there's no easy way to get a hold of Coalmine EP. Essed sent me a CD-R. If you really want to get a copy email me and I'll forward your request along to Essed. I don't want to be giving out the man's email address. But, trust me, you want a copy of this.

Monday, February 21, 2005

Isn't It Romantic...

Verse Press published a very good anthology of poetry on Valentine's Day. Called Isn't It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger American Poets the book is a nice overview of how much good writing there is being produced by folks born after 1964. You may or may not be a fan of the written word and may, I imagine, be wondering what I'm doing talking about poetry when you're hear to get hep to the indie rock music. Well, the fabulous bonus being offered by said book is that it comes with a CD of 20 love songs by some of alt-rocks luminaries. I'm talking Richard Buckner, Doug Martsch, Silver Jews, Jenny Toomey, Vic Chestnutt, Magnolia Electric Co. and others (sorry I sprained my thumb playing basketball and can't type hyperlinks for all those folks). It's a really lovely collection of songs and there are a few rarities here that make it particularly worth while.

Jeff Tweedy doesn't contribute any music but he does give us this poem:

Prayer #3

I have pondered
the long unpublished poems
of someone's only son
that dead laugh
spun over stone
where french kissed teenaged girls blush
and flash teasing tooth-pouts
lasting moments less
than real hope stirring
symphonic shouts
again slack
in service of dread,
mocked continents drifting
stems already shooting
across time's seamlessness
I have enjoyed these hours more
with you not by my side

2 songs from the audio CD included with Isn't It Romantic: 100 Love Poems by Younger American Poets:

Vic Chestnutt - In My Way, Yes

Ray's Vast Basement - She Is My Diary

Follow the links on Verse Press to purchase.

P.S. I hope you appreciate how hard it is to type with out a functioning thumb.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

The Comas...

The Comas make fun guitar rock that would fall solidly into the "indie" rock category if you are the type that needs those convenient boxes. I like them, they help me to think less. I need the direction. I make enough decisions. Todays dos songs are from the album Conductor which augments the guitar rock cliche with synths and breathy emo-boy vocals. Somehow, and I'm not sure how, the Comas manage to avoid being sappy. There's something endearing about them. They write solid fun songs, I'm not going to praise these guys as the saviors of rock and roll or anything but they're doing plenty right and that's more than a lot of bands can say.

2 from Conductor:



Please support music and purchase this as well as the other artists you hear here.

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


It's early here in the bay area. The sun is struggling to put a crack in the slate grey of the rain addled clouds. It won't get through today. The streets will stay wet. There's so much that needs to swept away. The rain is a blessing. It prevents the world from getting up to full speed. It forces feet to slow, to lay off the gas. There are too many people buried under hooded rain slickers. I wish they would let their hair get wet. I wish they would meet my eyes this morning. This day will unfold at a languorous pace. It will creep and duck in the alleys. It will be too lazy to cast dispersions and too lazy to talk about love. The city will miss the sun, but for today that's OK. There's time for sunshine, just as there's time for rain.

from Akron/Family's Akron/Family due March 14th:

Sorrow Boy

Running, Returning

Monday, February 14, 2005

One more time with Chad VanGaalen...

I posted a few tracks from Canada's Chad VanGaalen about a month ago and on the strength of those tracks I ordered his CD Infiniheart. Well that friggin' CD has been stuck in my cars CD player since it arrived. So I thought it was time to refresh the memories of those who perhaps have foolishly forgotten about how powerful Chad's music is or (more forgivably) simply missed that post. Chad VanGaalen is one of those bedroom savants. He holed up in his lo-fi bedroom studio and wrote hundreds of songs, 19 made it on to Infiniheart which is still a lot of songs. I'm the type that likes it short and sweet simply because I'm more often than not disappointed by an artist that ambitiously tries to give me quantity over quality. But there's not a bad song on the entire 1 hour running time of this CD. I can play the influence/similarity pointing game and say there's a parallel to Sparkle Horse, but that's selling Chad short because his sound is really very unique. HIs voice is reedy and thin but somehow it compliments the ethereal qualities of his songs. These are songs of heartbreak, sadness and carefully weighed decisions, while it is ponderous it is not suffocating. I'm giving you two of my favorites from Infiniheart. I'm told that Chad will have a more focused solo outing by summer. Looking forward to it, in the mean time you can PurchaseInfiniheart.

After The Afterlife

Blood Machine

Also for those of you who are curious about my other obsession (Andrew Bird - The Mysterious Production of Eggs) read my review over at Popmatters.

Friday, February 11, 2005


Pinback has been around for awhile. Or I should say that the 2 principles in Pinback have been around the San Diego scene for awhile. Members of Pinback have been in Three Mile Pilot , Black Heart Procession , Heavy Vegetable , Thingy , Physics , and Optiganally Yours. With their newest record Summer in Abanddon Pinback seem to be making a case for the big time. There's so much "catchy" in this album that you'll be lucky to escape your first listen with out at least a couple of these songs stuck in your head the rest of the day. You see, there's a middle ground between noise bands and Coldplay. All the indie rock haters out there probably feel safe to listen to Pinback now and then. They have lots of street cred, while producing breezy rock pop records like this one. This is a really strong record. I recommend it.

2 from Summer in Abanddon:



Thursday, February 10, 2005


Another band from New Jork. I don't believe these guys are signed yet, but there are a couple of songs available for download on at their website. The songs have a very Stone Roses kind of feel. The guitar is pushed to the front, but is very clean. The band's obviously paying alot of attention to their production values in an effort to create tight rocking songs. The vocals are kind of breathy and thin, but it works with the dream pop style they're playing. As far as I know they don't have anything for purchase as of yet. But be sure to go to the website and get on their email list.

Check it:

You Make Me Wanna Die
Lucky Jam

Wednesday, February 09, 2005


First off let me just say the there's a magazine out there that actually says something interesting. If you're inclined to love to read about music, band interviews, etc. check out 'Sup Mag. It's very New York centric, but is chock full of good stuff. It's in .pdf format so you can download and print or read it on the computer. Whatever.

Anyway, for your listening pleasure today I bring you Pela. 4 lads from New York who make a chiming guitar noise that makes me think of the Cure. Full of plaintive vocals (the guy reminds me of Jeremy Enigk), a good beat, and a kind of dreamy floating movement to the songs (Cocteau Twins, maybe?). An accomplished band that's getting some notice. They've opened for Rainer Maria, The Decemberists and Earlimart, so they're getting their indie rock credentials together.

2 from Pela:

All In Time


Tuesday, February 08, 2005

Micah P Hinson...

Prepare yourself to shed a few tears. Micah Paul Hinson is a lonesome troubador from Texas. He doesn't do country though, at least not totally. He's easier to compare to Leonard Cohen, Bob Dylan and other songwriters able to pen a heartfelt (read broken) lyric without sounding like a Boys 2 Men ballad (read schlocky and insincere).

Hinson's backstory is a gripping one. Playing away in the Abilene Texas music scene he met a Vogue cover model (also a widow of a notable rock star) who introduced him to valium and other narcotics. At age 19 Hinson was easily influenced/caught under the spell of this glamorous older woman. But like so many things that seem like a blast when you're 19, things took a turn for the worst. He was caught forging perscriptions and went to county jail losing his car, his money, his family, his home. He couch surfed with friends, declared bankruptcy, moved into a motel and got a job telemarketing. He now refers to the woman as the black widow. But during this time he wrote about thirty songs. Songs that weep with his experience. Songs that are expressive, light and dark, difficult and joyful. He's got a gruff voice, maybe 3 notches better than Tom Waits, that he wraps around his lyrics as if they are his only children.

While the music carries many traditional Americana instruments (lap steel, piano, accordion) there are also elements of lush strings, keyboards and tight vocal harmonies. These songs are often black with his heartfelt resentments but they play without forced pity.

A breakup record on par with Richard Buckner's Devotion and Doubt.

From Micah P Hinson & The Gospel of Progress:

Dont' You Forget (Parts 1 and 2)

The Possibilities

Close Your Eyes

Purchase the album. Support good music.

Friday, February 04, 2005

The Baptist Generals...

Forgive the brevity of this post but I've just got no time. I'm leaving for Reno tomorrow to take in the Superbowl in an atmosphere that's not put off by my drunken shenanigans, but actually in a tacit way encourages them. So to that end I bring you a brief post from the The Baptist Generals. A subpop band that's yet to fulfill their potential but threatens to with the recording of their new record. They'll be laying down tracks in Dallas, Tx next month. They're connected pretty strongly with the whole Denton, Tx scene revolving around Centro-matic, Will Johnson, Mandarin, Matt Pence (producer), etc. So the indie cred is there. Hopefully my man Dave Douglas behind the tom toms will bring out their unfulfilled musical reckoning. We'll see. In the meantime here's a one song dose of The Baptist Generals country-folk leanings. The lead singers voice grows on you, I promise.

Going Back Song

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Mystery Jets...

My first reaction to these guys was "oh great here's another completely overhyped british band celebrated by NME and Radio 1 that are surely no where near as timeless as the limeys think". But I think I may be wrong. These guys are rocking, fun, heading nodding, sing a long good. And they're from Twickenham which is where my older brother used to live. Therefore, in my twisted logic, they can't be all bad. I really like these three tracks. The band has enough personality in their songs to separate themselves from the very large pack of posing hipsters with stupid haircuts. There's elements of country rock buried in here, but buried to near unrecognizability. I've heard and read that they're crazy good live, so if you live in the UK you should check them out and let me know if all the hype is for real.

Alas Agnes (I Have And Always Will Adore You)

On My Feet

You Can't Fool Me Dennis

Wednesday, February 02, 2005


I've got to admit that i've been a bit obsessed with Okkervil River lately. I've been listening to their Sleep And Wake Up Songs EP with a revolutionary fervor. Which of course leads me to go on lengthy internet searches for additional information about the band. During this latest round of Googlorosio (my term) I came across Misra Records. Actually I didn't come across Misra as much as I was pointed that way by my friend Dave Douglas who has toured with Centro-matic and will be heading out on the road shortly to tour with Subpop band Baptist Generals (Dave we're gonna miss ya). He hepped me to the band Shearwater which is a side project for the Okkervil River kids. Shearwater doesn't fall very far from the Okkervil River tree, but is much more a straight pop sound than the deliciously skewed perspective of Okkervil. Shearwater is shilling a new EP, but I've been listening to 2004's Winged Life from whence these songs were plucked. I'll spare you the whole ornithological explanation of Shearwater and primary songwriter Jonathan Meiburg's background as a bird lover. You can read it yourself.

3 Songs from Winged Life which can be purchased Here:

Whipping Boy

Wedding Bells Are Breaking Up That Old Gang Of Mine

The World in 1984

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

The Impossible Shapes...

The Impossible Shapes is yet another band from Secretly Canadian's impossibly deep roster. I've been pimping them a lot lately but with Jens Lekman, Songs:Ohia. Magnolia Electric Co., on their roster and with associations through Jagjaguwar to Okkervil River (which I've been listening to obsessively) they've got some good music going on. The Impossible Shapes have been called Belle & Sebastian-esque and I suppose I can hear the similarities. Similarities in pace and attitude more than sound I'd argue. I've been listening to Tum today since it's availbable at the moment as a Free download for a limited time. There's lots of banjo, cello, guitar, sunny melodies, Beach Boy like harmonies. The free download is to market a) their current tour with Jens Lekman and b) their upcoming new album Horus. Tum was much more of a lo-fi bedroom (or garage) project. It changes direction almost from song to song, but there are excellent moments. If you snag the download check out "Florida Silver Springs" and "Hornbeam".

2 songs from the forthcoming Horus: