Tuesday, May 27, 2008


Ida is an "indie folk rock" quartet from New York City originally formed by Daniel Littleton and Elizabeth Mitchell (who married in 1999). They recently released their sixth album Lovers Prayers which was recorded at Levon Helm Studios in upstate New York. The band is named for Ida Machado Schafer, the grandmother of Mitchell's old friend, the artist and playwright Erin Courtney. Schafer was 92 years old at the time Mitchell and Littleton formed the group. The current lineup includes Mitchell, Littleton, Schickele, drummer Ruth Keating, and violinist Jean Cook. They are also frequently joined by pedal steel player Matt Sutton.

Their album list is given below, with links to a few of my favorite songs of theirs:

2008 Lovers Prayers
Worried Man Blues
Richard Thomson "For Shame of Doing Wrong"
2005 Heart Like a River (Polyvinyl)
Late Blues
2001 The Braille Night
2000 Will You Find Me
1996 I Know About You
1994 Tales of Brave Ida

Band members are connected by a variety of side projects including one album as Nanang Tatang, several solo albums, and three albums of children's music. Karla Schickele has also recorded with Beekeeper and K. Daniel Littleton has performed with the Hated, His Name Is Alive and Jenny Toomey's Liquorice. Elizabeth Mitchell previously performed in a duo with Lisa Loeb; Mitchell and Littleton both perform on Loeb's hit single "Stay (I Missed You)." Mitchell and Loeb also recorded a children's album in May 2004 entitled Catch the Moon.

You may also like:
Elliot Smith, Big Star, Nick Drake, Galaxie 500, Owl & the Pussycat, Oakley Hall, Winterpills, Lisa Loeb, Slowdive, Marykate O'Neal, Aimee Mann, Secret Stars, Lucero, Low, Codeine, Retsin, Idaho, Sweeder, The New Year, Kind of Like Spitting, The Naysayer, Alice Despard Group, Hannah Marcus, The Verna Cannon, Slackjaw, Julie Doiron, Rainer Maria, Sappington, Empress, Tram, Coastal, Rosa Chance Well, Low and Dirty Three, Tanya Donelly, The Capsules, Loquat, Thee More Shallows, Azure Ray, Nanang Tatang

Friday, May 16, 2008

Friday Video Spotlight: Traveling Wilburys

I've always enjoyed the historical impromptu accident that was the Traveling Wilburys and my band even covers both End of the Line and Handle with Care. I noticed this video of the latter hanging around and thought it would be a good end of the week video break.

Read more about the Traveling Wilburys here in Catherine Wagley's recently article in PopMatters.com.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Featured Studio/Producer/Engineer: Mike Mogis and Presto

I'm a pretty big fan of Jenny Lewis (of Rilo Kiley) and the Watson Twins, and I've even used their arrangement of the Traveling Wilbury's Handle With Care as well as Jenny's song Rise Up With Fists!!! A combination of this album and a Tape Op (#51) interview with Mike Mogis (playing the slide guitar, above) led me a real appreciation of Mike's talents and his role as, among other things, engineer and producer at Presto! Recording Studios in Lincoln, Nebraska. He has become even more well known due to performing with Bright Eyes and his affiliation with Saddle Creek records. I don't know if Presto! has already relocated to the new Wes Lachot designed space (originally an indoor basketball court), but it will undoubtedly be a center of great engineering and production. Asked about some of his studio influences, Mogis mentioned Steve Albini and Jon Brion's work as a producer.

Friday, May 9, 2008

Seminal Folk Rockers: Jesse Colin Young

Jesse Colin Young (bass, vocals) probably has a love/hate relationship with Get Together, a cover of the song by Chet Powers (Dino Valente) the one song his band The Youngbloods have become synonymous with due to it's popularity and many cover versions (I happen to like the version recorded by the Indigo Girls on Strange Fire but other notable versions were done by Jefferson Airplane, The Kingston Trio, The Carpenters, Linda Rondstadt, The Association, and Anne Murray).

The Youngbloods also featured former bluegrass musician Jerry Corbitt (lead guitar, vocals)—who left after the band's 2nd album, Earth Music (1967), drummer Joe Bauer, and multi-instrumentalist Lowell Levinger (aka "Banana"). Get Together originally did not sell well upon release in 1967 but in 1969 it was used by the National Council of Christians and Jews as their theme song and the rest, as they say, is history.

Ridgetop is a worthwhile Jesse Colin Young song.

Most of the the early Youngbloods material was recorded at RCA Victor, and the relationship between label and band was not a great one. I believe these are the correct production credits for first album, The Youngbloods (later retitled to - can you guess?):

Production by Felix Pappalardi
Recording Supervised by Bob Cullen
Engineers: Mike Moran, Mickey Crofford & Ray Hall
Recorded at RCA Victor's Studio B, New York City.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Ruby Suns - Tane Mahuta

I have a lot of faith in the tastemakers at SubPop records, which I came to know first by way of Iron & Wine, Grand Archives, Wolf Parade, and Flight of the Conchords. This video from The Ruby Suns 2008 release "Sea Lion" is for the song "Tane Mahuta" and is sung entirely in Maori with a video was created by Marco Vidaurre. The tabloid-kitsch-psychedelic aesthetic is definitely something you either like or you don't. Or maybe you just say who put something in my water or maybe it was those brownies I ate for lunch from that Rasta bakery...