The available information about Dear August on t'interweb is scant, but this is a great shame, as their album Come In, Keep Dry is simply lovely. I really don't know why more people (read: any people) aren't blogging about these folks.
This is Americana/alt-country in the vein of Lucinda Williams, The Byrds, The Band or The Geraldine Fibbers (sounding particularly like the latter on Girl Up The Road, Lamplight and Dressed In Blue).
The band hail from Madison, Wisconsin and were formerly known as Box Elder, releasing one album (Come Visit Soon) under that name. Upon finding out that this name was already in use by someone else, they plumped instead for Dear August, which was taken from their song Born On Ice.
Lead vocals come from Adrienne Cole, who was also handed primary songwriting duties on Come In, Keep Dry. She has a straight-up, but very pretty, corner-of-the-bar type alto voice...no messing, and you can almost hear the beer stains. Fellow band member Dan O'Brien also contributes vocals and the two sound great together; but Dear August shine most brightly when it is Cole who takes centre stage.
I'm not sure exactly when this album was released, but I do know that it was recorded at DNA Studios in Madison and that they finished it on July 18th 2007.
This really is good, and has featured heavily on my playlist the past couple of days. The songs are catchy, but bittersweet, e.g. "I never liked your sweet smile anyhow" on Don't Go To Town. I would highly recommend this album, and all of its tracks are great, but initial standouts are Jasper, Butchers Grove, Slack Black Jacket, Girl Up The Road and No Pining. That's five initial standout tracks from a 13 track album! I defy you to hear Jasper and not be won over! You can try to prove me wrong by heading over for a listen at their MySpace.
And then you can buy their CD from Miles Of Music (which is where I heard about these guys), CD Baby (where you can listen to two minute long sections of each song) or download the album as mp3s from Great Indie.
Which is where my rant begins (you have my permission to stop reading now if you wish...the album review and band introduction are over!).
I opted for the download route, crossing my fingers that money from that would actually go to the artist. I am a very poor Divinyl at the moment, and it was simply much cheaper than getting a CD shipped across from the US of A (in fact, the entire CD was just $8.99...or £4.72!).
I love mp3s for checking stuff out (of course I do), but I much prefer to own an album. By this I mean physically be able to hold it...smell it if I wish! I like it to be tangible, pick-up-able, and not just swamped by all the other mp3 files I have, lost and forgotten. I like liner notes...I like having the real thing goddamnit!
Never mind, this was my only route to own this album immediately (i.e. without saving up...never mind having to wait for it to arrive), so in I jumped. And whilst it was cheap, it really was a proper arse on. No shit, it took me more than an hour (1 hour, 4 minutes, to be exact) of dedicated sit-by-computering between paying for and having downloaded the full album.
Each track had to be downloaded separately, and each took a jolly long time. On top of this, not one of the tracks was properly named in the download file; it was all 01, 02 etc. This annoyed me because, not only did I have to type out the name of each (flicking between two web pages so that I had the names of each song) when the download box came up (in order to have any chance of ever being able to find it on my computer again, should I need to), I then had to fiddle about renaming in iTunes as well upon opening it. Grrr!
Furthermore, the tracks do not display in iTunes in the correct playing order, therefore I had to make a playlist where I could put them in the correct order.
All of this irked me a great deal. Thank goodness, then, for the end result and the beautifully mollifying tones of Adrienne Cole. Well worth all the hassle!