Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lauren Dukoff's Family

Image Credits: Lauren Dukoff

"Family", an exhibition of Lauren Dukoff's photos opens this week at San Francisco's Eleanor Harwood Gallery, with a book of the same name (published by Chronicle Books) following in May this year.

Dukoff has photographed close friend and musician Devendra Banhart and an extended, loose-knit international family of artists, as well as a range of other musical influences over the course of the last few years.

"Family" collects 100 of Dukoff’s photographs of Banhart, Joanna Newsom, Feathers, Espers, Vetiver, Bert Jansch, Vashti Bunyan, Linda Perhacs, Matteah Baim and many others. The books foreword was written by Devendra Banhart, it also features text and artwork by the musicians, biographies, and a digital download of music by artists featured.

MP3: Devendra Banhart - Freely
MP3: Devendra Banhart - This Is The Way

Lauren Dukoff on Myspace
Devendra Banhart on Myspace
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Previously on SOTR: London, London

Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Being so used to records leaking far ahead of their prescribed release date it is easy to lose track of when albums actually come out these days and maybe I am a dying breed, but i like to know this information so that I can actually buy them.

One such example is 'To Willie' by Phosphorescent, an album that I first got my hands on in November last year. I completely forgot that the album wasn't out yet.. well, now it is. As previously reported within these hallowed pages, 'To Willie' is a fantastic record that presents Matthew Houck as a fine interpreter of the songs of others and continues the growth in clarity of sound that Phosphorescent have managed with each album they have released.

MP3: Phosphorescent - Can I Sleep In Your Arms
MP3: Phosphorescent - It's Not Supposed To Be That Way

Phosphorescent on Myspace
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Previously on SOTR: Phosphorescent

Monday, February 16, 2009


Akron/Family have just revealed the artwork (below) and tracklisting for their forthcoming album 'Set 'Em Wild, Set 'Em Free' (due out in May on Dead Oceans). I managed to procure an advanced copy and am happy to report that it is a fine record. Although this is their first album made as a three piece, the record is as dense and populated with sounds, tempos and idea as anything they have ever made, it sees the band continues to evolve from its psych folk beginnings to a fuller psych rock sound, incorporating African rhythms and elements of free jazz amongst others.

In an age where the individual track is king, Akron/Family continue to make fully realized long players that work best as long form pieces (this is a compliment). However, the band are not completely at odds with the times and have just starting 'tweeting' on Twitter.

MP3: Akron/Family - Gone Beyond
MP3: Akron/Family - I'll Be On The Water

Akron/Family on Myspace
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Previously on SOTR: Akron/Family

Friday, February 13, 2009

Iron & Wine

Around the time that 'The Creek Drank The Cradle' was released, Iron & Wine were one of my favorite bands in the world, and that record still does it for me almost seven years on. At the time they were one of the first bands that I was into that had a treasure trove of songs floating around online, 7 inches and b-sides like "Dearest Forsaken" "Call Your Boys" and "Carissa's Weird", compilation tracks like "Peng! 33" and "Waitin' For A Superman" and then eventually the full set of demos for 'The Creek Drank The Cradle' and 'Our Endless Numbered Days' became widely available.

Sam Beam has always seemed to be the kind of artist who is never short of material and this is backed up by the announcement of 'Around the Well', an Iron & Wine rarities compilation. The tracklisting covers the bands entire career to date including three songs recorded for the film 'In Good Company', but never released; “Belated Promise Ring,” “God Made the Automobile” and “Homeward, These Shoes.”

There are a few omissions, most notably "Carissa's Weird", "Her Tea Leaves", "We All, Us Three, Will Ride", "Ab's Song", "Overhead" and "Red Dust", but this really is just nit picking over what looks like a fantastic compilation and worthy addition to the Iron & Wine catalogue.

'Around the Well' will be released by Sub Pop in May as a 2 CD and 3 LP set.

MP3: Iron & Wine - Her Tea Leaves
MP3: Iron & Wine - God Made the Automobile (Live)

Iron & Wine on Myspace
Support The Artist. Buy.Buy.Buy.

Previously on SOTR: Iron & Wine

Thursday, February 12, 2009

John Phillips - John Phillips (John The Wolfking of L.A.)

Most widely know for his work in The Mamas And The Papas, John Phillips' debut solo album 'John Phillips (John The Wolfking of L.A.)' is a work that, for me, surpasses his previous band's output and showcases an amazing talent at the height of his creativity.

Phillips began work on the album at a crossroads in his life. The Mamas And The Papa had just split up, as had Phillips and his then wife Michelle, and this sense of dislocation is referenced in the albums lyrical content. The most abiding sentiments conveyed are those of world-weariness and melancholy, with Phillips casting himself as a lonely observer in this heavily populated world. Musically the record is for the most part laid back, mellow groove music incorporating elements of country, folk and rock 'n roll. The playing is first rate with Phillips being backed by the cream of session musicians (Phil Spector's Wrecking Crew), steel guitar player Orville "Red" Rhodes & Elvis Presley guitarist James Burton.

Released in 1970 and largely overlooked at time of release 'John Phillips (John The Wolfking of L.A.)' remains one of the earliest and indeed finest examples of the burgeoning 'country rock' movement of the time.

MP3: John Phillips - Malibu People
MP3: John Phillips - Holland Tunnel

John Phillips website
Support The Artist. Buy.Buy.Buy.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Undoubtedly my favorite musical discovery of 2008, I first came across the genius of talons' main man Mike Tolan at the end of 2007, via a version of the truly amazing Tolan original, "Fuck Everything" played by Six Parts Seven (a band with which Tolan is a sometime member) on their Daytrotter session. After the song became a constant for me at the beginning of 2008, I began to do some digging and subsequently contacted Tolan via talons' myspace page offering to buy anything and everything he had committed to tape. He sent me a handful of hand-made, self released titles, including one of my albums of last year 'Songs For Babes', and to my delight the quality of the initial song that sparked my interest was repeated throughout everything that I heard.

Talons' primarily make beautifully crafted lo-fi recordings, short, concise songs presented with spare, but brilliantly executed instrumentation, ambient background noise, tape hiss and hushed vocals.

Tolan explains the bands concept in a document that accompanies all of talons' recordings (which he has made available for free online):
"The idea was to write folk songs, but not in the normal way. I love folk music, but I have some problems with it too. Mainly the idea of 'Song structures" is confining and makes for some boring songs.." "I write deconstructed folk songs, often without a chorus or maybe without more than one verse: direct songs that get to the point and then end. I feel that every word and note should have a purpose or be removed."

MP3: talons' - Fuck Everything
MP3: talons' - Ponytail
MP3: talons' - Nicole

Download: The "complete" talons' library

talons' on Myspace
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Previously on SOTR: Sweetheart Of The Radio: Albums of the year 2008

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Will Oldham

I have been meaning to post on Will Oldham for a while now, but for one reason or another something else has always come first. Well, with the new Bonnie 'Prince' Billy album 'Beware' out in less than a months time, I am making my move...and with Valentines day just a few days away - if I tack on the Palace Music song of the same name to the post, it looks like it has a purpose.

MP3: Bonnie 'Prince' Billy - Brokedown Palace (Grateful Dead cover)
MP3: Palace Music - Valentines Day

Bonnie 'Prince' Billy on Myspace
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Previously on SOTR: The Letting Go & Daytrotter Sessions

Monday, February 09, 2009

Blossom Dearie

April 28, 1926 – February 7, 2009

MP3: Blossom Dearie - Figure 8 (Removed By Request)

Blossom Dearie Wiki

Friday, February 06, 2009

Bill Callahan

Image credit: kirstiecat

Th excellent Microphones In The Trees has posted three tracks (seemingly taped off the radio) from the forthcoming Bill Callahan album 'Sometimes I Wish I Were An Eagle', and I am pleased to report they sound fantastic! Check them out for yourself here.

Mp3: Bill Callahan - A Man Needs A Woman Or A Man To Be A Man
Mp3: Smog - Bowery

Bill Callahan on Myspace
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Kath Bloom

Whether or not Kath Bloom will "do a Vashti", I am not so sure, but it is a joy to see an artist like this begin to get the appreciation and attention that she deserves. And the Kath Bloom appreciation society is sure to grow in the coming months with the release of the forthcoming record 'Loving Takes This Course: A Tribute to the Songs of Kath Bloom', which features a disc of covers by the likes of Bill Callahan, Devendra Banhart, Josephine Foster, Meg Baird and Scout Niblett, alongside a second disc of the Bloom originals.

The daughter of world-renowned oboist Robert Bloom, Kath Bloom was born and raised in New Haven, CT, where she initially trained as a cellist before taking up the guitar. After meeting and beginning a relationship with avant-garde guitarist Loren Mazzacane Connors in 1976, the two teamed up for a series of recordings spanning a number of years; of their out-put - some records were released in editions of as few as 50, most no more than 300 copies, until the duo released their final collaboration in 1984. Bloom took a sabbatical from music and "entered a period of child-rearing and family life".

Bloom began to make music again in the early 1990s, self-releasing a number of cassettes and CD-Rs. It was around this time that the film director Richard Linklater discovered Bloom’s music and featured the song "Come Here" in his 1995 movie 'Before Sunrise'. After an initial flurry of interest, little came of the exposure, indeed it was not until ten years later that Bloom's music hit a wider audience, with the release of the album 'Finally' on Chapter Music in 2006.

Ahead of the release of 'Loving Takes This Course: A Tribute to the Songs of Kath Bloom', Bloom will be playing a few shows in the US, including a couple in Californa with SOTR favorites Little Wings & Be-Gulls.

MP3: Kath Bloom & Loren Connors - The Breeze/My Baby Cries
MP3: Kath Bloom & Loren Connors - It's So Hard To Come Home

MP3: Bill Callahan - The Breeze/My Baby Cries(Kath Bloom Cover)

Kath Bloom on Myspace
Support The Artist. Buy.Buy.Buy

(see comments section below for bonus track)


Lazily browsing my inbox this morning, I was surprised and delighted to see a message from Jane Herships, who releases records under the name Spider, and who I wrote about on this very blog what feels like a lifetime ago. Much has happened since then, including a re-release of the quite brilliant 'The Way To Bitter Lake' album. The record was re-mixed, re-mastered, packaged in a beautiful gate-fold cardboard wallet with big fold out insert and put out by Storyboard Records.

Now Herships is in the process of finishing a second Spider album, 'Things We Liked To Hold', which will hopefully be out in late spring. Below is a taster of things to come, a new song called "White Snake", as well as a quite sublime version of Neil Young's 'Motion Pictures'.

MP3: Spider - White Snake
MP3: Spider - Motion Pictures (Neil Young Cover)

Spider on Myspace
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Previously On SOTR: Spider - 'The Way To Bitter Lake'