Wednesday, July 30, 2008

James Yorkston

The new James Yorkston album 'When The Haar Rolls In' is out on 1st September.

Yorkston's 4th studio album features guest appearances from Norma & Mike Waterson amongst others and will be available on the usual formats as well as a limited edition (1,000) box set containing the CD Album, a double 10" vinyl version of the album with an extra track, a covers CD, a remix CD, an enamel pin badge and canvas bag all for a reasonable £30.

The covers CD features Yorkston songs played by other artists including Viking Moses, David Thomas Broughton, King Creosote and Adrian Crowley amongst others.

But this is not all... one of the 1,000 box sets will have a "Golden Ticket" inside which will grant the winner their very own James Yorkston composition written just for them, with the promise that should James play a town near the winner, he will perform the song live at the show...nice!

MP3: James Yorkston & The Athletes - Heron
MP3: James Yorkston - Summer Song

James Yorkston on Myspace
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Previously on SOTR: Just Beyond The River

Tuesday, July 29, 2008


Noahjohn were a band from Wisconsin led by Carl Johns (Charlemagne, solo). They released three albums between 1999 and 2003. 'Tadpoles' (lo-fi slacker country), 'Had A Burning' (jangly alt. rock/country) and the beautifully realized 'Water Hymns' (slow americana). They also backed Eugene Chadbourne on a record called 'Country Protest Anew' in 2004. They disbanded shortly after, Johns going on to release records under the name Charlemagne.

Listening to 'Water Hymns' five years on, this really feels to me like a great lost gem of the early "noughties", The Velvet Underground sits as an obvious reference point, but 'Water Hymns'also infuses folk, krautrock, alt. country and slow psychedelia together to produce an atmospheric, melancholic night time record.

MP3: Noahjohn - First Communion (Non-Album Version)
MP3: Noahjohn - Rabbit Is Asleep

Noahjohn on Myspace
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Monday, July 28, 2008

Willy Vlautin

Willy Vlautin is the lead singer and primary songwriter for the band Richmond Fontaine. He has published two novels 'The Motel Life' and 'Northline'.

The original release of 'Northline' came with a CD recorded by Vlautin and Richmond Fontaine's pedal/lap steel player Paul Brainard. Consisting of haunting, low key, melancholic instrumentals recorded as a soundtrack to the book, this is rapidly becoming one of my favourite recordings of 2008.

MP3: Willy Vlautin & Paul Brainard - Confession To T.J. Watson
MP3: Willy Vlautin & Paul Brainard - Northline Main Theme

MP3: Richmond Fontaine - Lost In This World

YouTube: Willy Vlautin - Excerpt From Northline

Richmond Fontaine On Myspace
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Thursday, July 24, 2008

Brown Bird

Sometimes I like to play a kind of 'six degrees of Kevin Bacon' style game and randomly click on the top friends of a band on myspace, then randomly click on another and so on until I discover a new band I like the sound of. This is how I came across Brown Bird.

Brown Bird is David Lamb, who started making music under that moniker in 2002. Lamb was joined by married couple Jeremy and Jerusha Robinson in 2004. The Robinsons would continue to be a part of the band for the the next 5 years, through the release of two EPs (later compiled on to one CD as 'Tautology') and two long players, 2007's 'Such Unrest' and 2008's 'The Bottom Of The Sea' - each release building on the last, producing a dark folky slice of americana.

Shortly after the release of 'The Bottom Of The Sea', Jeremy and Jerusha departed and are now recording under the name South China. David Lamb is currently on a solo tour of the US in support of the new album .

MP3: Brown Bird - Run The Wire
MP3: Brown Bird - The Ice And Snow Haunt Me Still

Brown Bird on Myspace
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Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Breathe Owl Breathe

Breathe Owl Breathe is a band from Michigan made up of Micah Middaugh (vocals, guitar, banjo), Andrea Moreno-Beals (vocals, cello, banjo) and most of the time Trevor Hobbs (percussion, drums).

Laying down an organic mix of finger picked acoustic guitar (sometimes banjo), cello and vocal harmonies behind the distinctive voice of Middaugh (not a million miles away from Bill Callahan), Breathe Owl Breathe play subtle, soft, often innocent, heartfelt folk songs about love, loneliness and longing.

MP3: Breathe Owl Breathe - Home
MP3: Breathe Owl Breathe - Quiet Place

Breathe Owl Breathe on Myspace
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Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Iron & Wine

Although I still have not managed to get into their most recent album 'The Shepherd's Dog', I was reminded on my way to work today, thanks to random shuffle on my ipod, of why (or should that be how?) Iron & Wine became one of my favourite bands of recent years.

The ipod threw up two consecutive songs, the first a cover of The Marshall Tucker Band's 'Ab's Song', which for me feels like a direct ancestor, in both mood and lyric theme of 'Each Coming Night' from Iron & Wines second album 'Our Endless Numbered Days'. The second, my favourite ever Iron & Wine song - 'Carissa's Weird' which was included on a bonus 7" which came with the sublime 'The Creek Drank the Cradle' LP.

MP3: Iron & Wine - Ab's Song
MP3: Iron & Wine - Carissa's Weird

Iron & Wine on Myspace
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Monday, July 21, 2008

Bert Jansch - Bert Jansch

Encouraged by folk singer Anne Briggs, producer and engineer Bill Leader began recording the songs of young guitarist and songwriter Bert Jansch towards the end of 1964. Working in the kitchen of Leader's North London house using borrowed guitars and a reel-to-reel tape recorder, the two periodically gathered to work on committing to tape what would become Jansch's debut long player.

The resulting recordings, sold to Transatlantic Records by Leader for the sum of exactly £100, in a deal which meant that no subsequent royalties made from the recordings would be payable to the artist, ended up becoming one of the most influential, yet arguable underrated and critically undervalued albums of the decade.

'Bert Jansch', a quiet, pure and understated folk masterpiece was released in 1965 and went on to sell around 150,000 copies by 1975 and has been sited as an influence by a great tally of musicians including Nick Drake, Donovan, Neil Young, Jimmy Page and Johnny Marr.

MP3: Bert Jansch - Needle of Death
MP3: Bert Jansch - Courting Blues

Bert Jansch on Myspace
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Saturday, July 19, 2008

James Jackson Toth

The artist formerly known as Wooden Wand, James Jackson Toth's debut solo album 'Waiting In Vain' is out this month. Expanding on the psych-folk of his previous incarnation and continuing on from the more straight forward song focused approach of the last Wooden Wand release 'James and the Quiet', adding touches of country, soul and straight up rock, 'Waiting In Vain' is Toth's most coherent, accessible, fully realized work to date.

Guests on 'Waiting In Vain' include John Dietrich (Deerhoof), Shade Sartin (Giant Skyflower/Sky High Band), Carla Bozulich (Geraldine Fibbers), Nels Cline and both Andy Cabic & Otto Hauser from Vetiver, indeed opening track 'Nothing Hides' would not have sounded out of place on Vetiver's brilliant 'To Find Me Long Gone'.

MP3: James Jackson Toth - Nothing Hides
MP3: James Jackson Toth - Look In On Me

James Jackson Toth on Myspace
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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Paz Lenchantin

You may not instantly know the name, but you will undoubtedly have heard at least one of the records Paz Lenchantin (pronounced "paws lay-shawn-tain") has contributed to. She is probably most famous for being the bass player in both A Perfect Circle and Zwan, but her list of credits includes playing on the Queens Of The Stone Age album 'Songs For The Deaf', contributing fiddle to 'Tanglewood Numbers' by Silver Jews, playing bass on Brightblack Morning Light's eponymous 2006 album, as well as touring with Papa M and RTX. You can even buy a signature bass guitar named after her.

However, it was none of these ways that Paz Lenchantin came onto my radar, but rather via her fantastic, largely instrumental, very cinematic, mostly quiet, very self-released folk album 'Songs For Luci' released in 2006, from which the two tracks below are taken.

MP3: Paz Lenchantin - Kentucky Hymn
MP3: Paz Lenchantin - Bloom Like Roses

Paz Lenchantin on Myspace
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Tuesday, July 15, 2008


Doing a trawl of other blog sites, I was left astounded by how under represented Dolorean seem to be in this community.

Inhabiting a space somewhere between Damien Jurado, Richmond Fontaine, Great Lake Swimmers, 'Sister Lovers' period Big Star and early Elliott Smith, Dolorean's introspective and literate output often transcends the alt. county label it is given.

The band formed in Silverton, OR, in 1999, when guitarist/vocalist and primary songwriter Al James invited friend Jay Clarke to play keyboards on some home recordings he was working on. The two hit it off and began working on material for their first album. Bolstered by the addition of friends Ben Nugent, Jeff Saltzman and Skip Vonkuske to the band, Dolorean released the album 'Sudden Oak' on their own label.

After re-locating to Portland the band started work on their next album 'Not Exotic' with the help of engineer Tony Lash (Heatmiser/Elliott Smith), distributing copies of the finished work locally around Portland around mid-2002. It was around this time that the recordings drew the attention of the record label Yep Roc who gave 'Not Exotic' and official release in November 2003.

After another slight line up change Dolorean made 'Violence in the Snowy Fields', which saw the band take a huge leap forward both sonically and in terms of the fabric of the song Al James was writing. The band sounded more like 'a band' than on previous recordings, the arrangements more dynamic , the production tighter, the songs more complete.

After a three year sabbatical Dolorean released their fourth album 'You Can't Win' in 2007. For the most part recorded over a single weekend, 'You Can't Win' is album of quiet confidence, which saw the band develop their sound further with new attention on harmony work as well as bolder experimentation with instrumentation. The cover art for the album is a partially distorted photograph of Al James taken by filmmaker Gus Van Sant.

MP3: Dolorean - In The Fall (from 'Violence in the Snowy Fields')
MP3: Dolorean - We Winter Wrens (from 'You Can't Win)
MP3: Dolorean - Are You Really Real? (Ricky Nelson Cover)

Dolorean on Myspace
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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Damien Jurado

Last month I posted a live version of the track 'Sheets' from the forthcoming Damien Jurado album 'Caught In The Trees', Damien recently performed the track on 'The Daily Habit' on Fuel TV, as well as another new song 'Everything Trying'. Both clips are below along with the original demo of 'Everything Trying' from 2007.

"Sheets" Live on The Daily Habit

"Everything Trying" Live on The Daily Habit

MP3: Damien Jurado - Everything Trying (Demo)

Damien Jurado's Caught In The Trees Blog
Damien Jurado on Myspace
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Sibylle Baier

Recorded at home on a reel to reel tape recorder between 1970 and 1973, the songs on "Colour Green" remained unheard for more than 30 years after Sibille Baier gave up her aspirations of becoming a recording artists, instead choosing to move to the US to raise a family. It wasn’t until her son Robbie compiled a CD of her recordings to give to friends and family, that the songs drew the attention of J.Mascis who in turn passed them on to the Orange Twin label who released “Colour Green” in 2006.

Sounding like a cross between Vashti Bunyan and Nico, “Colour Green” is a haunting and dreamlike folk record that sits along side Linda Perhacs “Parralellograms” as one of the great lost albums of the thankfully found.

MP3: Sibylle Baier - The End
MP3: Sibylle Baier - Driving

Sibylle Baier on Myspace
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Friday, July 11, 2008

Yesterday I was sent an article about the decline of recorded music sales and the parallel growth and value of brand associations with musicians/artists, or at least the acceptability of such associations (recent examples that spring to mind include The Shins providing the soundtrack for a McDonald's ad & the Bob Dylan Victoria's Secret commercial).

This led me directly to recent examples of brands using the work of two artists that I love dearly.

The first, a new song from Lou Reed - 'The Power Of The Heart' commissioned by Cartier - available as a free download along side tracks by Phoenix and others on a website built to showcase Cartier's new 'Love Collection'.

The second, a campaign for Belvedere Vodka featuring Vincent Gallo. Again, a free download is offered on the site (because that is what cool young people want right?), this time the 'soundtrack' to a hip new ad campaign. The track is called 'Something I Want (For Real)' and is performed by Vincent Gallo and RZA from the Wu-Tang Clan. The ad campaign itself features Gallo and a bunch of models and is directed by the ever horny photographer Terry Richardson. See the campaign in all it's glory for yourself on the Belvedere Vodka website.

Download: Lou Reed - The Power Of The Heart (Link)

MP3: RZA & Vincent Gallo - Something I Want (For Real)

"Luxury Reborn" on Myspace
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Thursday, July 10, 2008


Next week I am going to see Leonard Cohen play in London. This is a show that I am really excited about. The first Leonard Cohen song I ever remember listening to was 'Suzanne'. I was thirteen. I vividly remember how hearing these words and this music together instantly changed my whole world.

Leonard Cohen has stated in interviews that the story of in the song was about an encounter in Montreal with the wife of sculptor Armand Vaillancourt, Suzanne Verdal.

Cohen recently described the song as the best of his whole career. The song has been recorded by many artist including Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Nina Simone, Neil Diamond & Fairport Convention. Below are two of my favorite versions and Cohen's original.

MP3: Leonard Cohen - Suzanne
MP3: Bridget St John - Suzanne
MP3: Fran├žoise Hardy - Suzanne

Leonard Cohen on Myspace
Bridget St John on Myspace
Fran├žoise Hardy on Myspace

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Wednesday, July 09, 2008

What Capitalism Was / Super Daughter

Super Daughter is John Catfish and Summer. They live on a commune in central Virginia. They sound a bit like a folkier, but less slightly lo-fi Moldy Peaches...if Moldy Peaches chief influence was Iron & Wine. They’ve released two albums: “The Animals We See” (2004) “Today Today Today” (2006) both available via CDBaby.

What Capitalism Was is John’s solo project away from Super Daughter. Released in spring 2007 was the “Find It Hold It LP” which is a compilation of songs from various different self-released EPs and singles.

MP3: Super Daughter - Bird Stealing Bread (Iron & Wine)
MP3: Super Daughter - Winter Waiting

MP3: What Capitalism Was - Dream At A Quarter To Nine
MP3: What Capitalism Was - Etude 65 - Dont Fall In Love

What Capitalism Was & Super Daughter Website
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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

I Must Be In A Good Place Now

One of my favorite records so far this year has been the Vetiver covers album 'Thing Of The Past'. The stand out track for me being their version of the Bobby Charles song 'I Must Be In A Good Place Now'.

The original, taken from Charles' 1972 self-titled album, would not sound out of place on 'Music From Big Pink' or 'The Band' - indeed Charles' backing band at this time included Rick Danko, Garth Hudson and Levon Helm.

MP3: Bobby Charles - I Must Be In A Good Place Now
MP3: Vetiver - I Must Be In A Good Place Now

Vetiver on Myspace
Bobby Charles on Myspace

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Monday, July 07, 2008

The Byrds - Sweetheart Of The Rodeo

If I am going to list or talk about my favorite albums on this blog (which i am!) - there is only one place to start.

In early 1968, after the release of the west coast rock album The Notorious Byrd Brothers and in an effort to fill the void created by the departures of both David Crosby and Michael Clarke, the two remaining Byrds Roger McGuinn and Chris Hillman decided 'get straight back on the horse' and begin work on a new record. A record that would inadvertently help create the musical movement that would be best known as country-rock.

Originally conceived by Roger McGuinn as an ambitious double-album that would work as an overview of American musical forms beginning with Country and Bluegrass, journeying through Jazz, on to rock 'n' roll, finishing with a side of electronica featuring a newly acquired Moog modular synthesizer, in no small part thanks to new member Gram Parsons, the the journey stopped where it began with country music.

Following the lead set by Bob Dylan on John Wesley Harding and at Parson's suggestion, the new albums was recorded in Nashville, the country music capital.
The Dylan influence is continued on the record with two covers from the then-unreleased Basement Tapes ("You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" & "Nothing Was Delivered"). Country covers old (The Louvin Brothers' "The Christian Life", Woody Guthries' "Pretty Boy Floyd") and new (Merle Haggards' "Life in Prison", Luke McDaniels' "You're Still On My Mind"), sit side by side with McGuinn and Hillman's "I Am A Pilgrim", two Parson's originals ("One Hundred Years From Now", "Hickory Wind") and a cover of a Stax hit (William Bell's "You Don't Miss Your Water").

During post production for Sweetheart Of The Rodeo - Parsons' presence on the record was contested by Lee Hazlewood, who claimed that the singer was still under contract to his LHI label. While the problem was resolved (Parsons sings lead on "Hickory Wind" and "You're Still on My Mind"), McGuinn, conscious not to let the album turn into a Gram Parsons album, replaced Parsons on vocals on three tracks ("The Christian Life", "You Don't Miss Your Water" and "One Hundred Years From Now"), a move that still angered Parsons as late as 1973, when he was quoted in an interview as saying that McGuinn "erased it and did the vocals himself and fucked it up"

Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, the sixth and arguably last great Byrds studio album was released on July 29, 1968. The cover art taken from a 1932 Rodeo poster by Uruguayan artist Jo Mora.

Although not well received at the time, Sweetheart Of The Rodeo, along with Parsons & Hillmans' subsequent work with the Flying Burrito Bros. and Parsons' solo output, became a major landmark, serving as a blueprint for the 1970s Los Angeles country-rock movement, outlaw country and the alt. country of the 1990's and 2000's.

MP3: The Byrds - You Ain't Going Nowhere
MP3: The Byrds - You Don't Miss Your Water (Gram Parsons Vocal)

The Byrds on Myspace
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Saturday, July 05, 2008


Paleo (aka David Strackany) has been on my radar for a while now, however it is only recently that I have started digging into the fantastic song archive within the Paleo website.

Spending a major part of the past few years touring constantly and living on the road, coupled with a phenomenal output of songs, makes Paleo a strong contender for some kind of hardest working man in show business crown.

Beginning on April 16, 2006, Paleo embarked on a year-long project of writing and recording a song each day and then uploading them onto his website. The resultant Song Diary can be downloaded for free from (along with more than 50 songs finished since The Song Diary's completion & the full album, “Misery, Missouri”, which was named one of the albums of 2006 by Daytrotter.

Sounding like a sleepier, croakier Devendra Banhart or perhaps a wearier, more lo-fi Matthew Houck, it is difficult to figure out why Paleo isn't already a more widely acclaimed artist.

MP3: Paleo - In The Morning Linda Dies
MP3: Paleo - Of Athens
MP3: Paleo - One Love Leads To Another

Paleo on Myspace
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Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Crayon Angels

Although I really like the format and with the great list of past performers (including Phosphorescent, Daniel Johnston & Bill Callahan), I have never really been able to fully get into The Black Cab Sessions. I guess it is partly the nature of the beast, but for me, it seems really hit and miss.

However, that said, the recent Fleet Foxes session has gone some way to warm me towards the whole black cab thing.

Robin Pecknold's earthy, stripped back, finger picked cover of California folk singer Judee Sill's song 'Crayon Angels' reinforces Fleet Foxes' authentic claim as the genuine article, a claim built on the foundation set by the superlative 'Sun Giant EP' and the equally brilliant long player 'Fleet Foxes'.

Watch the session below and then treat yourself further by listening to the original version of 'Crayon Angels', taken from Judee Sill's eponymous debut album from 1971.

MP3: Judee Sill - Crayon Angels

..And for good measure, a very circular song...
MP3: Fleet Foxes - White Winter Hymnal (Courtesy of Sub Pop)

Fleet Foxes on Myspace
Judee Sill on Myspace
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