Tuesday, December 23, 2008


Image credit: Suziemixer

Hot on the heels of an appearance in the SOTR albums of 2008, Castanets have recorded a session for the Indiana based, My Old Kentucky Blog related LaundroMatinee.

Ray Raposa played three songs during the session, Prettiest Chain and two brand new as-yet-untitled songs. Click here to download the session tracks on MP3 and watch the session (an example of which is below).

Castanets~Untitled #1 from LaundroMatinee on Vimeo.

MP3: Castanets - After The Fall

MP3: Castanets - Sway From 'In The Pines' (courtesy of Asthmatic Kitty)
MP3: Castanets - Glory B From 'City Of Refuge' (courtesy of Asthmatic Kitty)

Castanets on Myspace
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Previously on SOTR: Albums Of The Year 2008
Previously on SOTR: Castanets

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Folk

Image credit: Joanna Pallaris

01. Advice - Super Daughter
02. Brigidine - The Shoreline
03. Heron - Jon Hopkins
04. Pinecone eyes - Lesser Gonzalez Alvarez
05. The Cuckoo - John Renbourn
06. Francesca - Roy Harper
07. The Waltze Of The Tennis Players - Meg Baird
08. Come Sing Me A Happy Song To Prove We All Can Get Along The Lumpy, Bumpy, Long and Dusty Road - Bert Jansch
09. All This Crazy Gift Of Time - Kevin Ayers
10. Pack Up Your Sorrows - Richard & Mimi Farina
11. Endless Evening Light - Fleet Foxes
12. At First She Starts - James Yorkston
13. Hooves - Bowerbirds
14. home - Breathe Owl Breathe
15. Oh Celebrate Your Vague Words and Coquettish Sovereignty - Boduf Songs
16. Love In Ice Crystals - The Sallyangie
17. Willow's Song - Rachel Verney & Magnet
18. Wolves' Pup - Six Organs Of Admittance
19. In A Notebook - Goldmund
20. Famous Blue Raincoat - Marissa Nadler
21. Chimacum Rain - Linda Perhacs
22. Dark Is The Night (In The Wind) - Arborea
23. Migrating Bird - Vashti Bunyan
24. end - The Rural Tradition

Download Winter Folk zip

Thursday, December 18, 2008

David Crosby - If I Could Only Remember My Name

In 1971, David Crosby released his first solo album 'If I Could Only Remember My Name'. It was an album that would artistically break new ground for it's author, with its lush acoustics, layered harmonies and organically sharp production, however it was a record born from extremes in Crosby's life and there is an enduring sense of melancholy pervading the whole piece.

A founding member of Byrds, David Crosby had contributed writing or co-writing credits on a number of the bands best songs including "Everybody's Been Burned", "Eight Miles High", "Renaissance Fair", "Draft Morning" & "Tribal Gathering" and after the formation of Crosby, Still & Nash (/& Young), he found room to grow and such Crosby originals as "Long Time Gone", "Guinnevere", Wooden Ships" & "Deja Vu" became part of the bedrock of the soundtrack for a generation.

Shortly after the release of Déjà Vu, in mid 1970 CSN&Y took time out and Crosby began working on his first solo album with Stephen Barncard, who had just finished work on recording 'American Beauty' with the Grateful Dead. The sessions that followed were the musical embodiment of some incredible extremes in Crosby's life at the time. On the positive side he was experiencing great creative freedom and joy at the artistic, critical and commercial success of CSN&Y, on the negative side he was trying to come to terms with his girlfriend Christine Hilton's sudden death in a car crash only month earlier as well as the death of the sixties embodied by the war in Vietnam, the Manson killings, Altamont and the deaths of Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix.

With the help of a great cast of players including Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, Graham Nash, members of both the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, Crosby produced one of the great (but criminally under-appreciated) masterpieces of the era. "If I Could Only Remember My Name" is a free floating record that perfectly encapsulates the late sixties/early seventies California country/folk rock movement, but also transcends the movement completely to almost stand alone, as all great art has the ability to do. Graham Nash summed up the album most succinctly when he described it as "the perfect organic listening experience".

Although the complete magic of "If I Could Only Remember My Name" is fully appreciated when listening to the album as a whole, key tracks include the mantra like album opener of "Music Is Love", the epic shuffle of "Cowboy Movie", the melancholy harmony of "Orleans" and the magical groove of "Tamalpais High (At About 3)".

MP3: David Crosby - Music Is Love
MP3: David Crosby - Cowboy Movie

Link: "If I Could Only Remember My Name" - 1970 Session Outtakes (courtesy of Aquariam Drunkard)

David Crosby on Myspace
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Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Davy Graham

22nd November, 1940 - 15th December, 2008

MP3: Davy Graham - Anji
MP3: Shirley Collins And Davy Graham - Pretty Saro
MP3: Davy Graham - She Moved Through The Fair

Davy Graham Wiki

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Sweetheart Of The Radio: Albums of the year 2008 (5 - 1)

5. Willy Vlautin & Paul Brainard - Northline (Original Soundtrack)

Willy Vlautin & Paul Brainard - The Bus Ride To Reno

Willy Vlautin Website
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4. Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire - Lost Wisdom

Mount Eerie with Julie Doiron and Fred Squire - You Swan, Go On

Mount Eerie Website
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3. Fleet Foxes - Fleet Foxes

Fleet Foxes - Meadowlark

Fleet Foxes on Myspace
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2. Talons' - Songs For Babes

Talons' - Nicole

Talons' on Myspace
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1. Damien Jurado - Caught In The Trees

Damien Jurado - Predictive Living

Damien Jurado's Caught In The Trees Blog
Damien Jurado on Myspace
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Previously on SOTR: Sweetheart Of The Radio: Albums of the year 2008 (10 - 6)

Sweetheart Of The Radio: Albums of the year 2008 (10 - 6)

10. Goldmund - The Malady Of Elegance

Goldmund - Finding It There

Goldmund on Myspace
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9. Megapuss - Surfing

Megapuss - Duck People Duck Man

Megapuss on Myspace
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8. Castanets - City Of Refuge

Castanets - Refuge 1

Castanets on Myspace
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7. Horse Feathers - House With No Home

Horse Feathers - Helen

Horse Feathers on Myspace
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6. Karl Blau - Nature's Got Away

Karl Blau - 2 Becomes 1

Karl Blau on Myspace
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Monday, December 15, 2008

Karl Blau

Image credit: Gregory Carafelli

I don't know how Karl Blau managed to stay off my radar for so long, but a few months ago I saw the Microphones/Little Wings tour documentary 'Wise Old Little Boy' and as a result started digging deeper into the musical worlds of both bands. This is where Blau's work finally and thankfully hit my radar.

Karl Blau is a Anacortes, Washington based musician who has collaborated extensively with Phil Elverum (The Microphones/Mount Eerie) in the past, as well as recording with D+ and Young Heart Breaks & touring/recording with Laura Veirs - amongst many more things . His music is eclectic and he has been known to incorporate elements of folk, soul, dub, tropicalia, rock, hiphop and experimental noise. His most recent album 'Nature Got Away' is on the surface a more straightforward affair and the perfect entry point for anyone new to the world of Karl Blau. You can hear the whole of Nature's Got Away courtesy of K Records - here.

This was my entry point, along with a single released as part of the International Pop Underground: The Tom T. Hall song "That's How I Got to Memphis" covered by Mount Analog featuring vocals by Blau - which is one of the tracks posted below.

MP3: Karl Blau - It's The Stars
MP3: Mount Analog featuring Karl Blau - That's How I Got to Memphis

Video: Karl Blau - Mockingbird Diet

Karl Blau on Myspace
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Thursday, December 11, 2008


There is a unique warmth in the softly strummed guitar and voice of Laurel Knapp that draws you in when listening to Privacy. The minimal arrangements blanketed by Knapp's breathy, smokey, sleepy singing produce an almost womb like listening experience and a peaceful simplicity that for me defies direct comparison with any other record released in recent memory.

'Without Mercy' (to date Privacy's only full length release - if you can call it full length... the 8 track album lasts for only 20 minutes) is a special, foggy, late night record that manages to be so much more than the sum of it's parts might on the surface suggest. 'Without Mercy' was released in 2006 on the wonderful Marriage records, a label founded by Laurel Knapp and her husband Curtis, along with Thanksgiving's Adrian Orange.

MP3: Privacy - Goodnight Canyon
MP3: Privacy - Pining (courtesy of Marriage records)

Marriage Records on Myspace
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Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Fleet Foxes / Richard Swift

Beginning my annual 'albums of the the year' review I was reminded of a couple of fantastic releases from 2008 that can't make the final list for one reason or another...well only one reason actually - they aren't albums...

The first, Fleet Foxes 'Sun Giant EP' - recorded after, but released before 'Fleet Foxes', feels like a step forward in the right direction from the bands debut album. Each of the songs easily stand shoulder to shoulder with the best tracks from what many critics (certainly in the UK) are calling the best album of 2008.

The second is 'Ground Trouble Jaw', a five track free digital EP from Richard Swift that authentically references doo wop, 60's bubble gum pop and Prince with a little bit of Beatles White Album thrown in for good measure.

MP3: Fleet Foxes - Innocent Son
MP3: Richard Swift - Would You
MP3: Richard Swift - Lady Luck

Download: Richard Swift - Ground Trouble Jaw

Fleet Foxes on Myspace
Richard Swift on Myspace

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Previously on SOTR: Crayon Angels

Bruce Springsteen 'Working On A Dream' Artwork Revealed

'Working On A Dream' will be released at the end of January.

Bruce Springsteen on Myspace
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Previously on SOTR: The Boss Is Back...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Horse Feathers

This past weekend I have been listening to and loving the latest Horse Feathers album 'House With No Home'. The bands blurb reads as follows:

"Justin Ringle moved to Portland, Oregon in 2004, and began to play open mics regularly under the moniker Horse Feathers. In 2005 Peter Broderick heard two songs that Justin had recorded in a friend's basement, and proceeded to track Justin down via the internet. Shortly after that, the two started playing music together. For the most part, Justin writes the songs initially, and then Peter helps to arrange them with varying instrumentation. The resulting sound is music..."

‘House With No Home’ is Horse Feathers second album (The first being 2006's 'Words Are Dead'), but their first since singing to the Kill Rock Stars label.

MP3: Horse Feathers - Blood On The Snow
MP3: Horse Feathers - Father
MP3: Horse Feathers - Curs In The Weeds (courtesy of Kill Rock Stars)

Horse Feathers Daytrotter Session

Horse Feathers on Myspace
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Last week I got a copy of the new Phosphorescent album 'To Willie' and I am pleased to report that it is fantastic! Matthew Houck's voice sounds stronger and more self assured than i have ever heard it and the playing on the record is really tight.

'To Willie' is a covers album featuring eleven Willie Nelson songs, I nice concept, especially when referencing Nelson's own Lefty Frizell covers record from 1975, 'To Lefty From Willie'. Steering clear of "the hits", the album brings to light (for me at least) a number of gems from Nelson's hefty back catalog. I am in no doubt that this release will win Phosphorescent a great number of new fans and critical acclaim.

Below are a couple of previous covers from Phosphorescent. The first a version of Kris kristofferson's "Sunday Morning Coming Down" and the second is a cover of the Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds b-side "Right Now I'm-A Roaming" (a great video clip of Matthew Houck performing this song can be found at They Shoot Music - Don't They).

MP3: Phosphorescent - Sunday Morning Coming Down
MP3: Phosphorescent - Right Now I'm-A Roaming

Video: Phosphorescent - A Picture Of Our Torn Up Praise (courtesy of Dead Oceans)
Video: Phosphorescent - At Death A Proclomation (courtesy of Dead Oceans)

Phosphorescent on Myspace
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Previously on SOTR: Phosphorescent: My New Favorite Band

Monday, December 08, 2008

Damien Jurado

Ahead of the almost surefire crowning as winner of my album of 2008 title, a few Damien Jurado bits and pieces that I have been meaning to post for a while.

Firstly the brilliant video for "Caskets". Directed by Matt Daniels, the video features Damien's younger brother Drake in the lead role and is really a great looking piece. You can see it here or below.

Damien Jurado, "Caskets" from Thinklab on Vimeo.

Daytrotter have just posted a Damien Jurado session, which features, amongst other things, a fine reworking of 'Rehearsals For Departure' favorite "Ohio".

Damien has also recently popped up on the new Rosie Thomas Christmas record 'A Very Rosie Christmas'. He can be heard narrating part of the track "Shiela's Christmas Miracle".

Below is Damien's cover of the Dolorean song "Traded For Fire" originally released as a limited split 7" with Dolorean covering "Ghost Of David" on the flip side

MP3: Damien Jurado - Traded For Fire

Damien Jurado's Caught In The Trees Blog
Damien Jurado on Myspace
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Previously on SOTR: Damien Jurado: Last Rights

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Sibylle Baier - Let Us Know

While neglecting to post on here for a while, a whole load of great things crossed my radar...one such thing being the appearance of a new song from Sibylle Baier. "Let Us Know" was written for the new Wim Wenders film "Palermo Shooting".

Wim Wenders is a friend of the Baier family and is a big fan of Sibylle's music, in fact she and her daughter Julia made a brief appearance in the 1974 Wenders movie 'Alice in The Cities', along with some of her songs.

Both the Palermo Shooting score (by Can man Irmin Schmidt) and original soundtrack are available to buy/download now. Apart from "Let Us Know" the soundtrack also features two new songs from Nick Cave's Grinderman ("Dream (Song for Finn)" and "Song for Frank") and one from Bonnie "Prince" Billy ("Torn and Brayed"), as well as tunes from Iron & Wine, The Velvet Underground and Beirut amongst others. The movie also features a cameo from Lou Reed.

MP3: Sibylle Baier - Let Us Know

Stream: Palermo Shooting (Original Soundtrack) (courtesy of QOOB)

Sibylle Baier on Myspace
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Previously On SOTR: Sibylle Baier

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Allen Ginsberg

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness..."
--Allen Ginsberg 'Howl & Other Poems (1956)

Had he still been alive, Allen Ginsberg would have been 82 years old on 3rd Of June this year, he was one of the greatest poets of the beat generation and a leading light in the....ah, you know who he is.

The first song below features Ginsberg and his pal Bob Dylan. Here is the story in Allen Ginsberg's own words:

Vomit Express: "These 1971 sessions came about because Dylan had come to hear a poetry reading at NYU's Loeb Auditorium, standing in the back of the crowded hall with David Amram. We were on stage with a gang of musician friends, and Peter improvised, singing, “You shouldn't write poetry down but carol it in the air, because to use paper you have to cut down trees.” I picked up on that, and we spent a half an hour making up tuneful words on the spot. I didn't know 12-bar blues, it was just a free-form rhyming extravaganza. We packed up, said goodbye to the musicians, thanked them and gave them a little money, went home, and then the phone rang. It was Dylan asking, “Do you always improvise like that?” And I said, “Not always, but I can. I used to do that with Kerouac under the Brooklyn Bridge all the time.”

He came to our apartment with Amram and a guitar, we began inventing something about “Vomit Express,” jamming for quite awhile, but didn't finish it. He said, “Oh, we ought to get together in a studio and do it,” then showed me the three-chord blues pattern on my pump organ. A week later in the studio Dylan actually did the arrangement, told people when to do choruses and when to take breaks, and suggested the musicians cut a few endings on their own to be spliced in.

“Vomit Express” was a phrase I got from my friend Lucien Carr, who talked about going to Puerto Rico, went often, and we were planning to take an overnight plane a couple of weeks later, my first trip there. He spoke of it as the “vomit express” – poor people flying at night for cheap fares, not used to airplanes, throwing up airsick".

The second is a song called 'See you Later, Allen Ginsberg' recorded by Dylan and The Band and can be found on the much bootlegged, but quite indispensable Basement Tapes.

MP3: Allen Ginsberg with Bob Dylan - Vomit Express
MP3: Bob Dylan & The Band - See you Later, Allen Ginsberg

Allen Ginsberg on Myspace
The Basement Tapes on Myspace
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Monday, December 01, 2008

The Boss Is Back...

...but I guess he never really went away... Hot on the heels of 'Magic' and the subsequent world tour, January 2009 will see a new Bruce Springsteen album. "Working on a Dream" was recorded with the E Street Band and was produced by Brendan O'Brien.

The album lead up activity is in full swing with last weeks limited time free download 'Working On A Dream', the Halloween appearance of new track 'A Night With The Jersey Devil', new track 'The Wrestler' appearing in the trailer for the film of the same name and now a new video for 'My Lucky Day' appearing on Myspace.

And if that wasn't enough Bruce's transcendent version of the Suicide song 'Dream Baby Dream' has just been released. The limited vinyl edition is now sold out but the track can be downloaded from emusic, iTunes and by a whole bunch of other usual suspects. The released version is seven minutes of perfection; for a limited time see below for a just as perfect eleven and a half minute version of the song recorded in November 2005 on the Devils and Dust tour.

MP3: Bruce Springsteen - Dream Baby Dream (22nd November 2005)

Bruce Springsteen on Myspace
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