Album of the Month: Joe Pug – The Great Despiser

A couple of quick words about the latest album of the month, before it’s time to choose a new one (obviously one could and should write a master thesis or a novel about the greatness of this record). Anyway, Joe Pug’s second full-length The Great Despiser was a really easy choice for that album of the month slot on the right. The Great Despiser came out on Lightning Rod Records on april 24th and it was love at first sight.The debut album Messenger was already close to perfection (and the finest moments were perfect), but I’m loving this new one even more as a whole. Joe Pug from Chicago, Illinois is such a fantastic folk songwriter. The songs are instantly catchy and easy to enjoy right from the start, but they also hold a giant amount of lyrical depth & poetic devotion inside them. Without further ado, here are a couple of great examples of Joe Pug’s songwriting talent.

The Great Despiser:

One of Many live at Guild Lounge:

Joe Pug Website

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Joe Pug Live at Lincoln Hall

I think another great songwriter Kasey Anderson first got me into Joe Pug. Either him or the blog ninebullets. Or Kasey writing for ninebullets. Either way this happened sometime last year, I later bought the album Messenger, fell in love with it and it was one of my top 20 albums last year. Now ninebullets alerted me about the new live album and I have to do my small part in spreading the gospel.

Chicago’s Joe Pug is one of the greatest folk troubadours at the moment. Everyone seems to think so, but of course that’s a bit of a perspective illusion. In the bigger picture he is still relatively unknown, but in the world I live in, he is extremely highly respected and about 90% of the blogs and webzines I read (and whose opinion I trust) are totally into him. The big news concerning Joe Pug is that he has a new live album out there in the digital world entitled Live at Lincoln Hall and you can buy it for $5. You know that generally I don’t really care for these kind of things, but this guy is something special and you can hardly get a better value for money than buy this thing of beauty for around 4€ or so. Live albums don’t get much better than this. Fantastic stuff.

To get you in the right mood. Here’s How Good You Are from the HearYa sessions:

Joe Pug Website
Joe Pug Store

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Albums of the Year 2010 – Part three 20-11

Part one 40-31, Part two 30-21, Part four 10-1

20. Justin Rutledge: The Early Widows

I’m a long time fan of canadian singer-songwriter Justin Rutledge and have loved pretty much everything he has ever done. The Early Widows isn’t an exception to the rule albeit I’m not 100% happy with all of the production/arrangements choices (less gospel choirs next time around). Justin Rutledge is  such a master in creating poignant, poetic and beautiful folk songs.

19. Eels: End Times

Eels released two albums during the year. I didn’t like the second one Tomorrow Morning that much, but End Times was a really strong album.. Or maybe strong is not the right word. Maybe fragile, confessional & captivating would be better adjectives. End Times became one of my favourite Eels albums, but of course Beautiful Freak will always be the Eels album for me.

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18. Pete Molinari: A Train Bound For Glory

Pete Molinari’s concert at Bar Kuka was one of the highlights of the year. We bought three records from the show as well. I think A Virtual Landslide is my favourite, but this new one is also brilliant. Although I’m not that big fan of the single Streetcar Named Desire. It’s actually one of my least favourite songs on the album. But just listen to those old-fashioned ballads. Oh my, just perfect.

17. Joe Pug: Messenger

I know there’s a huge amount of country & folk troubadours on the list, but what can I do. That’s the kind of music I love nowadays. And a person like Joe Pug is certainly not just another folk troubadour. This man is a real talent and a fantastic songwriter. At first, Messenger didn’t seem anything that special, but soon the whole subtle beauty was revealed and I was amazed about two things. 1.) How great Joe Pug was 2.)How stupid was I, because I didn’t instantly see/hear it.

16. Hi-Lo & In Between: The Lonely Bird

One of my favourite finnish albums of the year was Hi-Lo & In Between’s wonderful second album The Lonely Bird. Finnish folk rock & americana, violin & mandolin, great songs & beautiful singing. Country & folk tradition and some finnish melancholy. My kind of music. I hope these guys will soon get the recognition they deserve. I’m really looking forward to the next album.

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15. Trembling Blue Stars: Fast Trains & Telegraph Wires

A last minute entry. Just got this four days ago, but I don’t have the heart to leave it out, because Trembling Blue Stars are one of my all-time favourite bands and this list seriously needs some (melancholic) indie pop. I almost owe my sanity to Bobby Wratten. Even if everything else was collapsing, Bobby Wratten’s voice has always been able to pull my heart together. It’s a bit too early to make final conclusions about Fast Trains and Telegraph Wires and a month later this might be ten places higher or lower. What I do know is that it’s certainly another great album. This will also be the final TBS album and it’s certainly a bit sad that there will be no more sad songs.

14. Possessed By Paul James: Feed The Family

I first bought the movie The Folk Singer and after watching that I knew I needed to buy some Possessed By Paul James albums. Feed The Family is definitely a passionate album. Mixture of energetic bluesy bluegrass and captivating folk songs. Extremely convincing stuff. It demands attention and doesn’t work that well as background music. But it really doesn’t need to, because music as pure and passionate as this will grab your attention.

13. Darren Hanlon: I Will Love You At All

Darren Hanlon’s wonderful song Scenes From A Separation took the song of the year award. This album is also steadily climbing up the charts and bypassed several albums that got a higher amount of hearts in a review. The first half of the album contains some of the best stuff released during the year. If it had all been that good, I Will Love You At All would have taken the album of the year award as well. However, the latter half is a bit weaker (albeit still really really good) and therefore this amazing australian (indie) pop troubadour has to settle for a place outside top ten.

12. Imperial State Electric: Imperial State Electric

This list needs a little bit of rock’n’roll and Nicke Andersson is the right man to deliver it. I’m a little surprised that this hasn’t gotten more attention. I just love this stuff and haven’t been this excited about Nicke’s band since the days of Payin’ The Dues. Sure it ain’t anything new and inventive, but it’s a whole lot of fun, fun & fun. Good old rock’n’roll and some rockin’ power pop. What could be better than that?

11. Have Gun, Will Travel: Postcards From The Friendly City

I’m not sure is Postcards From The Friendly City a 2010 release. I think this originally came out in november 2009, but later got wider distribution by the ever lovely Suburban Home. At least there was some writing about february 2010 street date on the Suburban Home website. I’ll trust that, because this wonderful album deserves all the love. Have Gun, Will Travel wrote stories that take place in their hometown Bradenton and wrapped them into lovely folk & americana songs. And it works like a charm. Let’s end this chapter of the albums of the list with a fan made video of the opening track Wolf In Shepherd’s Clothes.

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Review: Joe Pug – Messenger

Joe Pug: Messenger (Lightning Rod, 2010)

Joe Pug is a songwriter. A mighty good songwriter. From Chicago, Illinois. With heart & gently phrased thoughtful words. Folk songs, country songs.. Well good songs.. No wait. Not just good songs. Pretty amazing songs. After hearing one of Not So Sure, How Good You Are and Unsophisticated Heart most singer-songwriters would form a phrase in their mind that goes “that’s a song I wish I had written”. Kind of simple and easy to approach, but still very detailed, carefully crafted and delivered with heart. I suppose Joe Pug’s Messenger also contains some songs that are only good and nothing that special. Somehow that bit faster pop-tinged material like the title song or Speak Plainly, Diana doesn’t make a significant impact on me. Thankfully they are in the minority and mostly Joe Pug excels in the art of wrapping moving words inside slow-paced beautiful melodies and sending them straight to the core of your heart. These days I’m so sure. That Joe Pug is a songwriter. A mighty good songwriter.

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Listen to Not So Sure:
[audio:http://www.onechord.net/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/03-not-so-sure.mp3]

Joe Pug Website
Joe Pug at myspace

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