26 September 2009

Phil Ochs - I Ain't Marching Anymore (1965)

Phil Ochs (1940-1976) was a Vietnam War-era protest singer, singing about civil rights, labour struggles, anti-war ideals, and other liberal topics. He was a friend of Chilean liberal political figures, as well as many American folk musicians of the day.

Later in his career, he became addicted to prescription drugs and fell deeply into alcoholism. When visiting Africa, he was strangled by robbers, which left him partially unable to sing and made him paranoid. He was convinced the government was trying to kill him, and in 1975 he took on the identity of 'John Train', claiming to have murdered Phil Ochs. His friends tried to have him committed, but he instead went to living on the streets. He eventually lost his John Train persona and instead spoke frequently of suicide.
By Phil's thinking, he had died a long time ago: he had died politically in Chicago in 1968 in the violence of the Democratic National Convention; he had died professionally in Africa a few years later, when he had been strangled and felt that he could no longer sing; he had died spiritually when Chile had been overthrown and his friend Victor Jara had been brutally murdered; and, finally, he had died psychologically at the hands of John Train. --from Wikipedia
He was diagnosed with depression and bipolar disorder, and hanged himself in 1976. It was later revealed that the FBI had a 500 page dossier on him, considering him a 'subversive' and potentially dangerous.

Anyway, incredibly tragic life story aside, it's really great high-energy acoustic political folk music. His distinctive voice and guitar playing ensure his timelessness in a genre that does not often grant timelessness.


24 September 2009

Sundowner - Four One Five Two (2007)

Sundowner is the acoustic side project of Chris McCaughan, of The Lawrence Arms and formerly of The Broadways.
Whereas most folk-punk is punkish folk, Sundowner is folkish punk. Perhaps the distinction exists only in my mind but I think it's pretty different from other folk-punk. I really enjoy it.
It's really good autumn music: nostalgic, kinda depressing, and with several references to alcohol abuse.


17 September 2009

Latterman - No Matter Where We Go...! (2005)

Latterman was a band from Huntington, New York that was around from 2000-2007. They made three albums, of which this is the second. Pretty great, slightly poppy, punk rock music.
For fans of The Lawrence Arms, Hot Water Music, and such things.


William Elliott Whitmore - Hymns for the Hopeless (2003)

Another of my favourite artists, William Elliott Whitmore, plays a unique brand of dark blues/country. His voice sounds like it should belong to someone much older, and his vocal presence is exemplified on the opening track of this, his debut album. From the a capella opening track to the banjos and guitars through the rest of the album, it's a pretty stellar debut.

I thought a lot of people had heard of William Elliott Whitmore by now, but my artist-popularity-gauge (Last.fm) shows a relatively low amount of listeners. So here ya go.

Plus, look how cool he is:


16 September 2009

Justin Vernon - Hazeltons (2006) & Self Record (2005)


Hey look a 2-for-1!

These two albums are by Justin Vernon, the man behind the incredible Bon Iver. Before he made For Emma, Forever Ago as Bon Iver, he recorded these albums under his actual name. Bon Iver pulled him from obscurity so fast it's hard to even find the music he made before.

These do (obviously) share some similarities with Bon Iver, except there's almost no falsetto, there's a bigger selection of instruments, and some instrumental songs. Hazeltons runs a bit short, and Self Record runs a bit long, but the man clearly has tremendous songwriting talent and these albums are really excellent, even if they don't quite compare to Bon Iver.


Carissa's Wierd - Ugly but Honest (1999)

Carissa's Wierd was a band that was around from 1995 to 2003, at which point its various members formed Band of Horses, S, and The Grand Archives. I don't remember where I found this album originally but I've had it for a long time. It's slow, quiet, at times heartbreakingly sad.

Last.fm calls this slowcore but I outright refuse to call anything 'slowcore' as that's a stupid genre name. So into the catchall 'indie' it goes. Maybe 'alternative' as well, as it was the 90s' 'indie'. I have a system... kind of. Really the genres are meant to be specific enough to be helpful without being too specific.


Update: this is actually among my most favourite albums of ALL TIME.



13 September 2009

Foot Ox - It's Like Our Little Machine (2008)

Pretty bizarre at times but also pretty awesome. Not dissimilar to Andrew Jackson Jihad in the crazy-person folk way, although singer Teague Cullen's voice can take some getting used to. A few of the songs are really pretty spectacular; particularly, 'I Am', 'Lucky Strike', and 'Eat Up'. Definitely worth a few listens if it doesn't grow on you right away.

'Lucky Strike' was also covered by Andrew Jackson Jihad on Operation Stackola, linked above.


A.A. Bondy - American Hearts (2008)

I have now decided that I don't need a track list at the top; all the tracks are properly named and it is redundant

A.A. Bondy is from Alabama and plays a folky alt-country style of music. Reminds me at times of Bob Dylan, Josh Ritter, or a little like The Tallest Man On Earth. It's a really well-written album with some fantastic songs. The perfect thing for a certain type of mood, check it out.


The Broadways - Broken Van (2000)

1. Floundering
2. Not Necessarily the News
3. 2nd Grade Cells
4. One Man Board of Directors
5. Natural Disaster
6. Under My Belt
7. It Was Pancho Villa
8. T.V. Song
9. Broadway and Briar
10. Rainy Day
11. I Think I Shall Never See...
12. What Happened?
13. Lake Michigan
14. Dropjaw
15. This Routine

The Broadways were around from 1996-1998, after which bassist/vocalist Brendan Kelly and guitarist/vocalist Chris McCaughan formed The Lawrence Arms. Broken Van was actually released after they broke up, and is a collection of unreleased material and songs from their EP's.

The Broadways are somewhat like Jawbreaker, or (obviously) The Lawrence Arms.


The Dead Brothers - Dead Music For Dead People

1. Dead Brothers Stomp
2. I've Always Known
3. Farmer Boy
4. Besame Mucho
5. Roger
6. She Collects Postcards
7. Panjo Villa Against Tarras Boulba
8. Crying
9. Hora
10. Allons aux Paquis
11. Somewhere Between Dog and Wolf
12. Buy It
13. Good Time Religion
14. Orally
15. Ramblin' Man
16. Dead Brothers Stomp (Reprise)

Oh hi I haven't posted anything in a while. Hopefully I can get a few in today if Mediafire will cooperate.

The Dead Brothers are a bunch of guys with accordion, tuba, trombones, a megaphone... It's a very Tom Waits-y blues/cabaret/folk/country/polka/jazz thing. It's a little too weird in some places but really cool and interesting for the most part.


03 September 2009

The Dirtbombs - Ultraglide in Black (2001)

1. Chains of Love
2. If You Can Want
3. Underdog
4. Your Love Belongs Under A Rock
5. I'll Wait
6. Livin' For the City
7. The Thing
8. Kung Fu
9. Ode to a Black Man
10. Got to Give it Up
11. Livin' for the Weekend
12. I'm Qualified to Satisfy You
13. Do You See My Love (For You Growing)

Found this the other day, immediately loved it. Garage-punk-soul music courtesy of Mick Collins (formerly of The Gories). All but one of these songs are covers of old R&B and Motown songs. It's pretty fantastic, and these songs definitely work with this kind of loud, electric sound. Two bass players, two drummers, and a guitar.


Blind Willie Johnson - The Complete Blind Willie Johnson (Disc 1)

1. I Know His Blood Can Make Me Whole
2. Jesus Make Up My Dying Bed
3. It's Nobody's Fault But Mine
4. Mother's Children Have A Hard Time
5. Dark Was the Night - Cold Was the Ground
6. If I Had My Way I'd Tear the Building Down
7. I'm Gonna Run to the City of Refuge
8. Jesus Is Coming Soon
9. Lord I Just Can't Keep From Crying
10. Keep Your Lamp Trimmed and Burning
11. Let Your Light Shine on Me
12. God Don't Never Change
13. Bye and Bye I'm Going to See the King
14. Sweeter as the Years Roll By

I have a thing for music from long-gone time periods. Blind Willie Johnson (1897-1945) is a perfect example. Prewar blues mixed with depression-era gospel music, this type of music has a special place in my library. His voice and slide guitar technique are just superb. Worth noting that this comes from a time when blues musicians really had hard lives:
"Johnson was not born blind... when Willie was seven his father beat his stepmother after catching her going out with another man. The stepmother then picked up a handful of lye and threw it... into the face of young Willie.
Johnson remained poor until the end of his life, preaching and singing in the streets of Beaumont, Texas... In 1945, his home burned to the ground. With nowhere else to go, Johnson lived in the burned ruins of his home, sleeping on a wet bed. He lived like this until he contracted pneumonia two weeks later, and died."
--from Wikipedia
This is the first disc of a 2-disc set I bought on a whim from Cash Converters in grade 11. It outlasted many other CDs I bought in grade 11, I can assure you.


01 September 2009

Cobra Skulls - Draw Muhammad (2006)

1. Ode to Jefferson
2. Cobra Skulls at the Top of Your Lungs
3. The Decider
4. Shame on the Cobra
5. I Want Bigger Cobra Skulls
6. Hasta Los Cobra Skulls Siempre
7. Cobra Skulls in D Minor

Cobra Skulls is a band from Reno, Nevada. This is their debut album, a 7 song EP. On this and their next album, Sitting Army, nearly every song has the phrase 'Cobra Skulls' in it. The sound would be best described as similar to Against Me!... except a little more bizarre. And some Spanish lyrics from time to time.