There are plenty of people, myself included, who will argue (far too long into the night) that alt-country icon Will Oldham (left) was at his very best on the first album to utilise his Bonnie "Prince" Billy pseudonym; 1999's "I See a Darkness". A standout on the record was the blackly comic and brilliantly brooding "Death to Everyone". Now he has revisited the track in a live recording – reimagined as a rip-roaring bluegrass meets mariachi meets Hasidic jaunty work-out. Once again it is majestic. The track arrives as an exclusive out-take from his new live album, this time released under the name Bonnie Billy, alongside Kentucky bluegrass band the Picket Line. The track is a free download from dragcity.com. It precedes the LP 'Funtown Comedown', which features songs from Oldham's back catalogue (and monikers), as well as a few covers of some country music classics. The record is released on vinyl and digital download only on 15 December. As the final line "Death to Everyone" declares, "It makes living almost seem fun". Indeed.
4AD in the pink
With artists ranging from Bon Iver to the Big Pink on their roster, the UK's 4AD is one of the most interesting independent record labels around. Recently they started the "4AD Sessions" (4ad.com/sessions). Here there are exclusive videos of 4AD artists performing covers and alternative versions of their own music. The idea stems from last year's Deerhunter sessions (tinyurl.com/6ecavk) at the Platts Eyott studio. The new series begins with performances by Tune-Yards, aka the singer Merrill Garbus. Here's hoping other 4AD artists such as the National, St Vincent and Scott Walker show up in the studio soon. OK, I probably won't hold my breath for Mr Walker.
Just as you Lykke it
There is, as yet, no sign of Lykke Li, the 23-year-old Swedish electro-pop star, following up on her much-praised 2008 debut record 'Youth Novels'. However, this week the singer put a cover of 1960s girl-group The Shirelles' hit "Will You Love Still Me Tomorrow" on her website, lykkeli.com/ promo. Download it for the price of an email address. Her take on the oft-covered song is a spare one, featuring nothing but a mournful piano and Lykke Li's trilling voice.
Collaboration with a Midas touch
London's King Midas Sound is a collaboration between producer Kevin "The Bug" Martin, and the Trinidadian MC Roger Robinson and Hitomi. Their debut LP 'Waiting For You' is out on dub-steb overlord Steve "Kode 9" Goodman's label Hypedub next week. Hear their alluringly dark music at tinyurl.com/yhhxurx. Also get an insight into their "twilight Lovers Rock sound" with a brilliant free mixtape the trio compiled for 'Fact Magazine', tinyurl.com/ya85956.
Jagjaguwar is another interesting indie record label, this time US based. Among their roster are Pink Mountaintops, Okkervil River and Dinosaur Jr. Alongside 4AD (see left), they also represent Bon Ivor. The label recently signed their first UK band, Wolf People. The four-piece play somewhat retro but nevertheless intriguing rock songs pulled through a haze of English folk, blues, krautrock, distorted guitars and acid rock. Get one track, the bouncy "October Fires" from jagjaguwar.com. They release 'Tidings', a collection of rough recordings, made during their early gestation period between 2005 and 2007 in February. It serves as a sort of calling card for a proper full-length LP which is due later in 2010.