Tag Archives: Daniel Knox

Doomsday – at least it’s fun to sing about

doomsdayHere we go again. A bunch of people are freaking out over another doomsday. I guess I shouldn’t make too much fun. Way back in the ’80s when I was a Baptist I got hyped up because some radio preacher or other had me convinced the end was nigh.

I remember how let down I was when I didn’t get raptured at the stroke of midnight at the church New Year’s Eve party. Luckily I never actually told anyone what I was thinking, so my embarrassment was minimal.

Since then I’ve lost count of the “doomsdays” that have come and gone. The Y2K scare was a big one, but there have been others. Since there are plenty of real and serious problems in the world, and since nothing lasts forever, I imagine the day will come – though I have a feeling we’ll go out with more of a whimper than a bang – but in the meantime I’ve got too much short term trouble to deal with to freak out over what New Agers or Mayans or TV preachers say.

One thing about it though… The idea of doomsday is a hell of an inspiration for musicians. Some of my favorite songs are end of the world songs. I don’t know if we’re supposed to disappear at midnight or if whatever it is takes place sometime during the day, but if you’re still here and our technology still works, check out some of these songs:

Daniel Knox – Armageddonsong

Jill Tracy – Doomsday Serenade

Michael Schenker Group – Cry for the Nations

The Handsome Family – When that Helicopter Comes

The Legendary Pink Dots – This Could Be the End

Chris Cornell – Preaching the End of the World


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Daniel Knox puts out new two-song EP

Daniel Knox, the awesome troubadour with the twisted sense of humor, has just put out a two-song album on Bandcamp. You can listen for free and download for $1.98. The first is funny-yet-dark. The second is beautiful and melancholy. Check it out:


I’ve been a big fan of Daniel’s for a long time now as you can see. Check out some of his other works if you haven’t already. I think his albums Evryman for Himself and Disaster are classics.

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Daniel Knox collaborating with photographer John Atwood in ‘Black and Whites’

I would like to bring everyone’s attention to an ambitious project by Chicago-based singer/songwriter Daniel Knox. Daniel just raised over $10,000 in a Kickstarter campaign, allowing him to give a multi-media performance with photographer John Atwood. The long form composition, “Black and Whites” will premiere Jan. 25, 2012 at 92YTribeca in New York City along with an exhibition of Atwood’s photos. He’ll be working with some fabulous musicians. You can find out more about it here, and here. And on his Tumblr page. He is also doing a residency and open rehearsal in Watermill New York.

I almost cheated and made Daniel Knox’s – Evryman for Himself one of my top 5 picks for 2011. It was officially released 2011, but the truth is I’ve had the previous independently-produced version of this album in heavy rotation since 2010. The two versions are slightly different (so slight, I can’t really tell unless I strain my ears). If you haven’t heard it, do yourself a favor and get your copy from his new label, La Société Expéditionnaire.

This is the song that made me a Daniel Knox fanatic:

Daniel Knox “Ghostsong” from Daniel Knox on Vimeo.

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Daniel Knox’s Evryman for Himself is out today

Daniel Knox’s new album Evryman for Himself went on sale today on the La Société Expéditionnaire. It is available on both CD and vinyl. I’ve heard the album already and it is fabulous. Do yourself a favor and get your copy. The promo below is just a taste of what he can do:

He’s already won me over as you can see from my writeup a while back. Check out some of his other music on his website. I highly recommend Disaster.

Daniel is currently on tour in the UK with the Handsome Family and he’ll be returning to the U.S. for shows on the East Coast.

05.11.11 Gateshead, UK Sage (Hall 2) w/ Handsome Family
05.13.11 Norwich, UK Arts Centre w/ Handsome Family
05.14.11 Reading, UK South Street Arts Centre w/ Handsome Family
05.15.11 Exeter, UK Phoenix w/ Handsome Family
05.16.11 Bristol, UK Fleece w/ Handsome Family
05.17.11 London, UK Tabernacle w/ Handsome Family

05.18.11 Belfast, IRE Errigle Inn w/ tbd
05.19.11 Dublin, IRE Bewley’s w/ Saramai Leech
05.20.11 Cork, IRE Pine Lodge *Evening with Daniel Knox* FREE SHOW

05.26.11 Chicago, IL – the Hideout *Release Party* w/ Judson Claiborne
05.28.11 Grand Rapids, MI – Hoi Poloi w/ Soil & the Sun, Jacob Bullard, Judson Claiborne
05.29.11 Pittsburgh, PA – Garfield Artworks w/ Show is a Rainbow, Judson Claiborne
05.30.11 Washington DC – Looking Glass Lounge w/ Live You, Me, Them, Everybody Series Show
06.01.11 Philly, PA – Kung-Fu Necktie w/ Lewis & Clarke, Judson Claiborne
06.02.11 Brooklyn, NY – the Rock Shop w/ Lewis & Clarke, Judson Claiborne
06.03.11 Cincinatti, OH Northside Tavern w/ Judson Claiborne

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Daniel Knox’s Evryman for Himself to get full label release, tour with Handsome Family set for May

Just got some exciting news from Daniel Knox, one of my favorite recent discoveries. His album, Evryman for Himself, is getting an “official” release from Pennsylvania label La Société Expéditionnaire. I and some other fans managed to get hold of the album before this — and I’m already in love with it — but the album has been “revised, remastered and only slightly re-recorded” to become what Daniel considers its definitive form. Now we’ve got two versions for nerds like me to collect and hoard once he becomes as famous as he deserves to be. The official release is scheduled for May. Folks who bought the first version will get a discount on the new one.

Daniel is also planning to tour in the UK with Brett and Rennie Sparks of the Handsome Family and making an appearance at Amanda Stern’s Happy Ending Reading Series in NYC at Joe’s Pub. Late spring shows are planned for Chicago and New York “and more stateside dates to be announced soon.” (It would be awesome if “stateside” includes Austin…)

If you want to get an immediate Daniel Knox fix, check out the amazing album Disaster on Bandcamp. You can stream it, or download it for $1 per song or $8 for the album.

If you’re lucky enough to live in the UK, see if you can catch one of these shows:

05.11.11 GATESHEAD, UK SAGE (Hall 2)

If you want to see just how crazy I am about Daniel Knox, read the post I wrote back in September:

Daniel Knox ‘s strange beautiful songs could be future American standards

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Five from 10: top five albums from 2010

It would be so clever to have a “Ten from Ten” list of favorite albums from 2010. Unfortunately, I can only come up with a top five list. I’m sure there were at least five more killer albums that would’ve rounded out my top 10. I just didn’t find them.

I never want to say that any year was a “bad year” for music. If you don’t have enough good music to listen to, it usually means you didn’t look hard enough. I didn’t buy as much new music in 2010 as I usually do, for a number of reasons: I was broke, very busy at work, and I still wasn’t finished with 2009 (which was an unusually good year for music, in my opinion. Just to name a few: Phoenix, Daniel Knox and Grizzly Bear put out some great albums that took a while to absorb fully).

There were some 2010 albums that I really do enjoy, however, albums that I’m sure I’ll be listening to for many years to come. It’s hard to rank them, really, but I’ll take a shot:

1. Beach HouseTeen Dream

This one has probably spent more time on my stereo (and laptop, etc.) than any other album. Aptly named, it really does sound like a dream. In the past, Beach House mined shoegazer very well, capturing the atmosphere of bands like Slowdive. However, the songs I heard from them in the past didn’t really hold up that well for me in terms of melody and lyrical content. Style over substance in other words. This album definitely has both. The reverb is toned down so you can really hear Victoria LeGrand’s lovely voice. “Zebra” and “Norway” are excellent examples of indie pop. “Lover of Mine” is the best song of all, one of those songs that really tugs at the heartstrings. Every song on the album is solid. Modern dream pop.

My only complaint is the videos. I got the deluxe CD package with a video disk, and I’m just not feeling those at all. Silly, dumb, ugly, even painful to look at. All they do is detract from what is an otherwise blissful music experience.

Check this out if you haven’t heard them (avoid the official video if you know what’s good for you):

2. The Black KeysBrothers

This was one of those impulse buys at Waterloo Records. I had a stack of CDs in my hands and a certain amount I wanted to spend and they started playing songs from Brothers. “She’s Long Gone” and “Sinister Kid” hooked me completely. Had to put something back, ask the guys at the counter what it was and buy it. I played the hell out of it for weeks and I can always go back to it and still enjoy it. I was already a big fan of Attack & Release. Their music is a perfect mix of blues and indie punk. Blues, with energy and punch. The guitars just sound so rank and nasty.  Damn good songwriting too.

3. Legendary Pink DotsSeconds Late for the Brighton Line

These guys just continue to amaze me. There was a time last year when I was afraid they might be able to call it a day. Niels Van Hoorn (woodwinds) and Martin de Kleer (guitar) quit the band. Then Edward Ka Spel’s mother got sick and their planned North American tour got put on hold. But past member Erik Drost returned to play guitar and the Dots put on an amazing live show in Austin back in November. The latest album turned out to be a grower for me, but it certainly has been growing in my esteem. “Russian Roulette” and “Hauptbahnhof” are classic Dots songs, as is “God and Machines” (the last being one of the best live songs from their show.

4. CrocodilesSleep Forever

I like this album better and better every time I play it. At only 35 minutes, it’s short and sweet. It satisfies and there’s no annoying filler to skip over. There is a unifying theme – death – and the songwriting is solid. “Mirrors,” “Stoned to Death” and “All My Hate and My Hexes Are For You” are my favorites. I get a little bit of a Stone Roses vibe from some of the songs, particularly “All My Hate…” in that the tunes sound so sweet, yet the lyrics are so mean and cutting. I love juxtapositions like that.

Big thanks to Mark Whitby of Dandelion Radio for turning me onto these guys from San Diego. He played their cover of Deee Lite’s “Groove is in the Heart” and I was immediately hooked. Based on comments in YouTube and 0n sites like Rate Your Music, they seem to have a dedicated group of haters as well as a nice cult following. The big gripe seems to be that they sound too much like Jesus and Mary Chain. I hear an influence, definitely, but I don’t think the criticism holds water. In fact — and this ought to piss off the haters — I got out my copy of Automatic to refresh my memory and frankly I like Sleep Forever more. Also I don’t like Psychocandy. So there.

I’m having a hell of a time deciding which song to embed, but “Stoned to Death” ought to do…

5. Vampire WeekendContra

Very enjoyable album, already mentioned on this blog. I love the way they’ve brought world music influences into the realm of indie pop/rock. I get a big Paul Simon vibe off the album, especially “White Sky” (which is in no way a put down – Graceland is a hell of an album). “Cousins,” and “Holiday” are really catchy songs.

I may be forgetting something I liked from 2010 and I’m sure I failed to discover a lot of good music. I’d like to see some other people’s top 5 lists and check them out. It might put me behind schedule for my best of 2011 list, but I’ll worry about that when the time comes 😉

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Daniel Knox’s strange, beautiful songs could be future American standards

Daniel Knox in the shadows next to a carousel. Captures something about his music I think.... (John Atwood photo)

The first time I heard Daniel Knox’s “Ghostsong” I was stunned. It was like nothing I had ever heard, but at the same time it sounded so classic, full of beauty, sadness and mean-spirited humor.

I streamed it over the Internet for a few days, growing more and more addicted and finally I couldn’t take it any more. I went to his website and ordered his whole discography.

That’s something I rarely do — I’m not made out of money. But I could tell right away that I had to get my hands on this man’s music and keep it close, on the off chance it could turn out to be a dream, or something the Internet washed onto my shore that it might sweep away again.

There was more where “Ghostsong” came from. Much more. I now think of Knox as an American treasure, right up there with Tom Waits.

Knox taught himself to play the piano by regularly sneaking into the Hilton Tower’s Grand Ballroom; he took a job as a projectionist at the historic Music Box Theater just so he could play its massive pipe organ. He accompanied director David Lynch in that theater for the 2007 Chicago premiere of Inland Empire.

Much of the time he sings in a deep, masculine voice. Then he breaks into a beautiful, sweet falsetto. His songs range from heartbreaking ballads (often with wicked twists), to brash, New Orleans-influenced pieces that put me in mind of Dr. John.

His songs don’t really sound like anything else. And yet i get the distinct feeling they might’ve been around forever — American standards.

Here’s a taste of what Daniel Knox can do:

I currently have the albums Disaster, Evryman for Himself (technically not released yet, but I was able to get hold of it – send DK a message and he will probably hook you up) and two E.P.s: A Poison Tree and Window Music (Instrumentals 2001-2007).

At this point I have a hard time deciding which I like better, Disaster or Evryman. Disaster is a bit more minimalistic, with those lovely dark ballads, often just Knox and a piano or organ. Those songs really get to me — “What Have They Done to You Now” and “Be Afraid” being particular favorites.

Evryman has some of those — “Ghostsong” being a huge standout — but it also features more New Orleans style songs, with bandmates Paul Parts (bass), Jason Toth (drums), Ralph Carney (horns) and Chris Hefner (auxiliary instruments). “I Make Enemies” and “Debt Collector” are excellent as is “Armageddonsong.” I got to love those too. They might be the ones with the biggest hit potential after all.

The E.P. A Poison Tree is also definitely worth having for the two very different treatments of John Donne’s famous poem.

It’s not all about the music either. Knox’s lyrics have a big impact — sad and misanthropic, resigned and fatalistic, wry and witty, vulnerable to warm feelings — which are seen as a distraction and an imposition…

They might not work for everyone, but I find them brilliant and moving.

Just check out some of the lines:

From “Armageddonsong”: “Armageddon’s comin’ soon. The sun will crash into the moon, but we will still have breakfast…”

From “Lovescene”: “Groping for more than I can hold, sulking like a 12-year-old, and suddenly I find myself dancing. Oh how I hate dancing…”

From “Ghostsong”: “If you die tomorrow or a hundred years from now, there won’t be an article or a furrowed brow. Yours is like the spirit of a breeze that blows through town. No one remembers unless it knocks something down…”

Truly brilliant. I think this guy is going places. If I have anything to do with he will. I haven’t been so excited about a newly discovered artist in a long time. He’s already made it to the top of my own musical Olympus.

If you’re anywhere close to as impressed as I am, check out his website and buy some of his albums. Then find him on Facebook. He just might go on tour one of these days and you’ll want to be ready in case he comes to your town.


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