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Sunday, August 17, 2014

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
August 16, 2014
Scott Foley

She was beautiful / It was circumstance / Watch the boat on the water / Learn to dance

This weekend, while KRFC was proudly broadcasting acts from the Bohemian Nights lineup, I was walking across shallow, cold rivers.  I climbed up mossy rocks reaching towards a high waterfall.  I walked gingerly across a field of "alpine tundra" along the continental divide, and maneuvered through driving rain and hail, a precipitous drop to my right.  I went to restaurants based solely on their Yelp! ratings ... 

One morning / One morning / Like a beggar I went roving  / With no clear sense of direction / and no coin in my cup

I also accidentally left my constant companion behind, my sack of music to preview.  Fortunately, I did pack my laptop, along with a digital copy of Hiss Golden Messenger's "major label breakthrough", The Lateness of Dancers.  My initial impression is that this is a much more commercial record than MC Taylor's previous work with the Paradise of Bachelors label. 

Girl of mine with silver in your hair / I still want you / It's getting hard to be easy now / A couple of kids / Mahogany dread / But happy days are still ahead

Returning to Haw and to Poor Moon, and even to Taylor's work with California's The Court & Spark, my suspicions were confirmed.  The new HGM material take a more direct route to the ears.  Whereas previous tunes meandered towards a general musical statement, the new songs often launch right into a hook.  Even more "impressionistic" moments like "Chapter & Verse (Ione's Song)" float atop an organ drone, or they punctuate a line with a reverse guitar loop. 

One day I tried to kneel / I tried to kneel but could not / They said, "Go ye to the holy house" / And I took the long way around

But tunes like "Drum" or the single that heralded the record, "Brother Do You Know the Road" remind us that beneath his more immediate sound, MC Taylor remains a folk singer.  As a lyricist, he falls firmly in that gospel/folk/country tradition, while adding impressionistic touches that make Lateness of Dancers a disarmingly personal statement. 

But at the moment the sun is shining right on me / And the road is shimmering in the haze / Oh Ione, your daddy's just as dark as can be / But I can be your little rainbow too

It's a jewel of a record that comes at the perfect time in our collective discovery of Hiss Golden Messenger.  It's a wandering through the wilderness that will eventually lead back home.  A plunge into a chilly creek that heightens the senses and makes us feel more alive. 

We'll be back to a full Routes & Branches Episode next Saturday, featuring the first sounds from Lucinda Williams' forthcoming double CD, as well as a second single from Ryan Adams' self titled record.  Expect new Pieta Brown, and whatever else has landed upon my desk.  While I'm always curious, we're anticipating a full day through the mountains tomorrow, so I'm not necessarily in a great hurry to find out. 

Sunday, August 10, 2014

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
August 9, 2014
Scott Foley

Great to spend some time with Drew Kennedy to begin this Episode.  Turns out we were both halfway through copies of Todd Snider's new collection, I Never Met a Story I Didn't Like.  Great storyteller, of course.  Kennedy himself tells some good stories, albeit involving fewer ill advised decisions or illegal substances.  His new double CD, Sad Songs Happily Played, intersperses this engaging personality with a survey of Kennedy's fine songs, just the man and his acoustic.  Matter of fact, some of the intros last longer than the corresponding tunes.  As he tells it, it wasn't until after the show that he realized that the soundman had been recording.  This makes for such a personal document, "a human recording," writes Kennedy, "It's not perfect, but that's the nature of being human.  I think I speed up and slow down here and there.  I think I say "thanks" too quickly after every song -- and in a weird way -- but that's what I did on this particular Friday night in November, the culmination of my 33 years, 8 months, and 5 days of life."  Turns out that's what makes Sad Songs such a fitting way to experience Drew Kennedy.  You might take his singing for granted until you hear him slip into his falsetto during an exquisite "Vapor Trails", or witness his vocal strength on "Headlights".  Perhaps you wouldn't recognize the careful precision of his lyrics until you hear "Jackson Square" or "I've Got Some Leaving To Do" in such a pin-drop setting.  It's the next best thing to spending half an hour in the studio with him. 

KRFC will be broadcasting Fort Collins' Bohemian Nights at New West Fest next Friday thru Sunday, preempting the station's usual lineup.  I'll likely publish a new blog entry despite the absence of a corresponding playlist.  If you need yourself a bit more Scott until then, please join me this Wednesday from 8-10am (mt) for a Morning Mix. 

*  Cory Branan, "All the Rives In Colorado"  No-Hit Wonder  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Goodnight Texas, "Knock 'em Stiff"  Uncle John Farquhar  (Self, 14)
^  Drew Kennedy brand new live song
*  Drew Kennedy, "Vapor Trails"  live in studio
*  Drew Kennedy, "Things Change"  Sad Songs Happily Played  (Self, 14)  D
*  Matt Hillyer, "If These Old Bones Could Talk"  If These Old Bones Could Talk  (Run Up Tree, 14)
*  Micky & the Motorcars, "Long Road To Nowhere"  Hearts From Above  (Self, 14)
*  Secret Country, "Night of Whiskey"  From the Barroom To the Bedroom  (Killing Horse, 13)
*  Cahalen Morrison & Country Hammer, "Daisy In Tennessee"  Flower of Muscle Shoals  (Free Dirt, 14)  D
*  Whiskey Shivers, "Give Me A Reason"  Whiskey Shivers  (Self, 14)
*  Black Prairie, "Songs To Be Sung"  Fortune  (Sugar Hill, 14)
*  Bill Miller Band, "Prettiest Girl"  Any Way Shape or Form  (New West, 14)
*  Steve Earle & Milk Carton Kids, "Custer"  Look Again to the Wind: Johnny Cash's Bitter Tears Revisited  (Sony, 14)  D
*  Trampled By Turtles, "I'm Going Down"  Dead Man's Town: Tribute To Born in the USA  (Lightning Rod, 14)
*  Old Crow Medicine Show, "Sweet Amarillo"  Remedy  (ATO, 14)
*  Devil Makes Three, "Statesboro Blues"  Do Wrong Right  (Milan, 09)
*  Frazey Ford, "September Fields"  Indian Ocean  (Nettwerk, 14)  D
*  Hiss Golden Messenger, "Southern Grammar"  Lateness of Dancers  (Merge, 14)
*  Luke Winslow-King, "Everlasting Arms"  Everlasting Arms  (Bloodshot, 14)  D
*  Shovels & Ropes, "Stono River Blues"  Swimmin' Time  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Quiet Life, "Housebroken Man"  Housebroken Man  (Mama Bird, 14)  D
*  Loudermilks, "Quite Honestly"  Loudermilks  (You Know What, 14)
*  Sahara Smith, "Are You Lonely"  Myth of the Heart  (Playing in Traffic, 10)
*  Paul Thorn, "Old Stray Dogs & Jesus"  Too Blessed To Be Stressed  (Perpetual Obscurity, 14)  D
*  Denver, "A Way Out"  Rowdy Love  (Mama Bird, 14)

Sunday, August 03, 2014

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
August 2, 2014
Scott Foley

Artists can spend so much money making sure their records sound polished and "professional", when sometimes all we really want is a load of noise coming from the garage.  About halfway thru this Episode, I indulged that need, scratched that nasty itch, and took us on a refreshing trip off the rails, highlighted by a noisy, distorted cut from Benjamin Booker.  I knew Booker was my man as soon as I launched into the first track of his debut and realized that I had no idea of the lyrics he was spitting.  From New Orleans, the 24 year old cites Gun Club, T Rex and Blind Willie Johnson among his influences - my initial take planted him in an unkempt garden between early Shane McGowan and Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott.  As a guitarist, he seemingly plays with his knuckles, rattling away with a Chuck Berry riff on "Violent Shiver", or exploding into pure, unrecognizable (lovely) distortion on cuts like "Chipewa" or "Have You Seen My Son" (not to mention that unholy howl of a voice).  Most impressively, he is one of the few artists since Violent Femmes who cut a rare line between gospel and punk.  Listen to the guitar jangle of "Always Waiting" or the hymnlike organ of "Slow Coming", above the refrain, "Honestly, I cannot be bothered / To tell you the truth, I ain't been sleepin' too well ..."  ATO Records reportedly signed Booker on site after a legend-making performance at Newport Folk Festival, and I'm sure ATO wasn't the only label in line that evening.  I'm beginning to realize that space on the Benjamin Booker bandwagon is quickly filling, so jump on before it's too late. 

In other news:  Matt Hillyer is best known as the frontman for Eleven Hundred Springs, a perfectly fine band that I play a couple times per year.  My expectations for his first solo album (produced by Lloyd Maines) were about level with those for my daily lunch salad:  I'm glad to have it, but I don't expect to be knocked over by its greatness.  This is a long way to go to say that Hillyer's new songs did take me by surprise, shot through with good humor and wordplay, and slathered with a healthy dressing of Lloyd Maines.  Also, I'm pleased to say that I'll be joined in the studio next week by Drew Kennedy, who will debut his brand new double live CD, as well as playing a bit for us.  

*  Chuck Prophet, "Ford Econoline"  Night Surfer  (Yep Roc, 14)
*  Parker Millsap, "Truck Stop Gospel"  Parker Millsap  (Okrahoma, 14)
*  Robyn Ludwick, "Somethin' Good"  Little Rain  (Late Show, 14)
*  Drew Kenendy, "Rose of Jericho"  Wide Listener  (Self, 13)
*  Otis Gibbs, "Darker Side of Me"  Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth  (Wanamaker, 14)
*  Caleb Caudle, "Another Night"  Paint Another Layer On My Heart  (This is American Music, 14)
*  Joe Purdy, "That Diamond Ring"  Eagle Rock Fire  (Mud Town Crier, 14)
*  Micky & the Motorcars, "Hearts From Above"  Hearts From Above  (Self, 14)  D
*  Robert Ellis, "Good Intentions"  Lights From the Chemical Plant  (New West, 14)
*  Sassparilla, "What the Devil Don't Know"  Pasajero/Hullabaloo  (Fluff & Gravy, 14)
*  Matt Hillyer, "I Still Have a Little Falling Left To Go"  If These Old Bones Could Talk  (Run Up Tree, 14)  D
*  Jim Lauderdale, "I Lost You"  I'm a Song  (Sky Crunch, 14)
*  Gram Parsons, "Love Hurts"  Grievous Angel  (Reprise, 74)
*  Puss N Boots, "Don't Know What It Means"  No Fools No Fun  (Blue Note, 14)
*  Sarah Borges, "Mind On Me"  Radio Sweetheart  (Lonesome Day, 14)
*  Goodnight Texas, "Button Your Collar"  Uncle John Farquhar  (Self, 14)
*  Ben Miller Band, "Hurry Up and Wait"  Any Way Shape or Form  (New West, 14)
*  J Roddy Walston & the Business, "Don't Get Old"  J Roddy Walston  (Vagrant, 10)
^  Benjamin Booker, "Violent Shiver"  Benjamin Booker  (ATO, 14)  D
*  Greyhounds, "Yeah Yeah Yeah"  Accumulator  (Ardent, 14)
*  Whiskey Shivers, "Pray For Me"  Whiskey Shivers  (Self, 14)  D
*  Justin Townes Earle, "Time Shows Fools"  Single Mothers  (Vagrant, 14)
*  Cave Singers, "VV"  Welcome Joy  (Matador, 09)
*  Shakey Graves, "Dearly Departed"  And the War Came  (Dualtone, 14)  D
*  Mary Gauthier, "Trouble & Love"  Trouble & Love  (In the Black, 14)
*  Joseph LeMay, "You Still Do It"  Seventeen Acres  (Self, 14)
*  Hearts of Oak, "Tunnels"  New England  (Deer Lodge, 14)
*  Lindi  Ortega, "I'm No Elvis Presley"  Little Red Boots  (Last Gang, 11)
*  Lonesome Shack, "Medicine"  More Primitive  (Alive NaturalSound, 14)
*  Jeffrey Martin, "Coal Fire"  Dogs In the Daylight  (Fluff & Gravy, 14)  D

Monday, July 28, 2014

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
July 26, 2014
Scott Foley

Why isn't Chuck Prophet more of a household name?  Like Alejandro Escovedo (or, I'd argue, Lou Reed or Steve Wynn), Prophet's music is distinctly urban, telling stories about his beloved San Francisco that strike a perfect balance between grit and glam. Since his days in Green On Red with Dan Stuart, through his stints with Lucinda Williams, Warren Zevon and as a longtime collaborator with Escovedo, he's written songs to rival more celebrated acts like Peter Case or even Alex Chilton.  My life is an experiment / That doesn't prove a thing.  On his thirteenth solo record, Night Surfer, Prophet is joined on guitar by Peter Buck on 14 more songs that so skillfully incorporate just the right amount of twang with his perfect garage pop.  "You could be my savior / I could be yours too".  "Laughing On the Inside" could be the perfect lovechild of Big Star and Springsteen, while Richard Thompson might've written "Ford Econoline" if Prophet hadn't reached it first. "Sing a broken melody / Bring all your troubles home to me / You can tell me anything at all".  At this point in the game, I don't expect Night Surfer's little masterpieces to show up on my Sirius XM feed.  I certainly wouldn't mind seeing a couple other bloggers throwing praise Prophet's way. 

Also on this Episode of R&B, the first glimpse at Jerry Lee Lewis' October album is unexpectedly relevant (I look forward as well to his October memoir, cowritten with Rick Bragg).  With their long beards and penchant for Appalachian punk, I've taken an immediate liking to the New West debut of Joplin, Missouri's Ben Miller Band.  And have I gushed yet about Otis Gibbs' remarkable new collection?  Oh, and here's one for your calendar:  We'll be visiting instudio with Drew Kennedy on Aug 9, celebrating the release of his double live record. 

*  Hearts of Oak, "Lovers Ain't Easy"  New England  (Deer Lodge, 14)
*  Brown Bird, "Blood of Angels"  Salt For Salt  (Supply and Demand, 12)
*  Barr Brothers, "Half Crazy"  Sleeping Operator  (Secret City, 14)
*  Frontier Ruckus, "Sad Modernity"  Sitcom Afterlife  (Quite Scientific, 14)  D
*  Trampled By Turtles, "Hollow"  Wild Animals  (Banjodad, 14)
*  Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray, "Drifter's Compass"  Lean Into the Wind  (Seven Dead Arson, 14)
*  Big Shoals, "12 Step"  Still Go On  (Self, 14)
*  Band of Heathens, "LA County Blues"  One Foot In the Ether  (BoH, 09)
*  Shovels & Rope, "Evil"  Swimmin' Time  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Pine Hill Haints, "Ms Pacman"  Magik Sounds Of ...   (K, 14)  D
*  Ben Miller Band, "The Outsider"  Any Way Shape or Form  (New West, 14)   D
*  Secret Sisters, "If I Don't"  Put Your Needle Down  (Republic, 14)
*  Johnny Cash, "I Came To Believe"  Out Among the Stars  (Columbia, 14)
*  John Fullbright, "Never Cry Again"  Songs  (Blue Dirt, 14)
*  Otis Gibbs, "Nancy Barnett"  Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth  (Wanamaker, 14)
*  Malcolm Holcombe, "Another Despair"  Pitiful Blues  (Gypsyeyes, 14)
*  Townes Van Zandt, "Hunger Child Blues"  In the Beginning  (Compadre, 03)
*  Andrew Bird, "Sad Milkman"  Things Are Really Great Here, Sort Of ...  (E1, 14)
*  Delines, "Oil Rigs at Night"  Colfax  (El Cortez, 14)
*  Jerry Lee Lewis, "Rock & Roll Time"  Rock & Roll Time  (Vanguard, 14)  D
*  Jayhawks, "False Eyelashes (Blue-Eyed Soul)"  Rainy Day Music reissue  (American, 14)
*  Mastersons, "Nobody Knows"  Good Luck Charm  (New West, 14)
*  Old Crow Medicine Show, "Firewater"  Revival  (ATO, 14)
*  Lee Bains III & Glory Fires, "Burnpiles & Swimming Holes"  Dereconstructed  (Sub Pop, 14)
*  Sir Douglas Quintet, "A Nice Song"  Complete Mercury Masters  (Mercury, 05)
*  Steelism, "Blind Beggar"  615 To Fame  (Single Lock, 14)  D
^  Chuck Prophet, "Ford Econoline"  Night Surfer  (Yep Roc, 14)
*  Hard Pans, "Wallace"  Budget Cuts  (High Plains Films, 14)

Monday, July 21, 2014

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
July 19, 2014
Scott Foley

Is the music forest big enough to encompass both Strand of Oaks and Hearts of Oak?  I believe so.  As Strand of Oaks, Timothy Showalter released Heal last month, one of my favorite records of the year.  The album established a watermark in Showalter's career, a decided lane change from lo-fi indie-folk to an increasingly electric sound that owes more to 80s new wave (as processed thru a contemporary indie lens).  There was a time, however, when Strand of Oaks sounded more like Nate Wallace's Hearts of Oak, whose New England boasts some buzzy electric moments, but remains firmly in the lo-fi lane.  Wallace calls it "shoegazer country", a mix that ranges from acoustic voice and guitar pieces seemingly recorded beside a crackling campfire ("Lovers Ain't Easy") to the spaced out of New England's  later tracks.  He triangulates his location referencing acts like
Crazy Horse, Spiritualized and St. Jason Molina as musical compass points.  The record itself establishes a logical progression, from folk to a full band crunch, all behind Nate Wallace's understated slacker drawl.   Those vocals are sometimes buried in feedback, extraneous noise leaks into the mix, and that guitar occasionally threatens to engulf the entire sonic mess.  But it's an occasionally beautiful and sometimes daring tangle that takes Hearts of Oak's 3rd release in a direction that early adapters might not immediately embrace, but which establishes a new maturity in a similiar vein as Showalter's project.  By my judgement, you'd be on the right track to follow either of these careers. 

Also on this Episode of R&B, we pay a return visit to another Portland, OR act in Sassparilla's impressive double CD.  There's also a double helping of Justin Townes Earle debuts, and our first taste of what promises to be a superb Otis Gibbs collection.  Finally, it's increasingly obvious that Robyn Ludwick is not only the most attractive member of the Robison clan, she can also stand up to Bruce and Charlie as a songwriter of note. 

*  Goodnight Texas, "Bank Robber's Nursery Rhyme"  Uncle John Farquhar  (Self, 14)
*  Sassparilla, "Wicked Take Care of Their Own"  Pasajero/Hullabaloo  (Fluff & Gravy, 14)
*  Jim Lauderdale, "Neon Hearts"  I'm a Song  (Sky Crunch, 14)
*  Lucinda Williams, "Bus To Baton Rouge"  Essence  (Lost Hwy, 01)
*  Justin Townes Earle, "White Gardenias"  Single Mothers  (Vagrant, 14)  D
*  Cory Branan, "You Make Me"  No Hit Wonder  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Josh Nolan, "Come Mornin'"  Fair City Lights  (Self, 14)
*  Caleb Caudle, "Bottles & Cans"  Paint Another Layer On My Heart  (This is Amer Music, 14)
*  Otis Gibbs, "Darker Side of Me"  Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth  (Wannamaker, 14)  D
*  Michael Dean Damron, "Tornado Song"  Father's Day  (In Music We Trust, 09)
*  Graham Lindsey, "Hard Life"  Digging Up Birds  (Self, 14)  D, C
*  Andy Thomas' Dust Heart, "Except Nebraska"  Blood & Sunshine  (Self, 14)  D, C
*  Sarah Borges, "Start Again"  Radio Sweetheart  (Lonesome Day, 14)
*  Shovels & Rope, "Mary Ann & One Eyed Dan"  Swimmin' Time  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Jerry Jeff Walker, "Northeast Texas Women"  Too Old to Change  (Elektra, 79)
*  Billy Joe Shaver, "Hard To Be An Outlaw"  Long In the Tooth  (Lightning Rod, 14)
*  Loudermilks, "Everybody Knows You"  Loudermilks  (You Know What, 14)
^  Hearts of Oak, "Goldmine"  New England  (Deer Lodge, 14)  D
*  Deadwood Saints, "6th Street and Trinity"  6th Street and Trinity  (Self, 14)  C
*  John Hiatt, "Terms of My Surrender"  Terms of My Surrender  (New West, 14)
*  Be Good Tanyas, "A Little Blues"  Hello Love  (Nettwerk, 06)
*  Dwight Yoakam, "Who'll Stop the Rain"  single  (Reprise, 14)  D
*  Drag the River, "Hey Tonight"  Bother Me Tomorrow: Indie Tribute to CCR  (Tan & Blue, 14)  C
*  Chuck Prophet, "Countryfied Inner-City Technological Man"  Night Surfer  (Yep Roc, 14)  D
*  Hayes Carll, "It's a Shame"  Trouble In Mind  (Lost Hwy, 08)
*  Justin Townes Earle, "Glory Days"  Dead Man's Town  (Lightning Rod, 14)
*  Jason Isbell, "Now That Your Dollar Bills Have Sprouted Wings"  Song Reader  (Capitol, 14)  D
*  Robyn Ludwick, "Longbow, OK"  Little Rain  (Self, 14)  D

Sunday, July 13, 2014

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
July 12, 2014
Scott Foley

The service went the way it shoulda gone
No one talked to loud or cried too long
'Cept your momma's new boyfriend, he went on and on
While they laid you in the ground.
Right about then a truck backfired and all the boys they flinched their heads
Yeah, that shook me up I guess
I been home a month now and I still can't get no rest
I'm standing by the grave of a dearly departed friend
Nothing much to say except sorry it turned out like it did

My soul is fed by lyrics like these, from Old Crow Medicine Show's "Dearly Departed Friend".  Ketch Secor uses real words here and applies them conversationally, but in a manner that still manages to surprise.   There are countless attempts at this kind of song out there, putting a face on this generation's war casualties.  Secor's offering stands apart, however, if simply for the final line, "Nothing much to say except sorry it turned out like it did".  The song is boldly divorced from jingoistic cliche, painting an honest picture of small town America that could've been drawn from a Larry McMurtry novel.  "So go on and tie another yellow ribbon round the old hackberry tree / and tamp the dirt down. / Y'all go on home now, there ain't nothin' here to see."  There are still moments on OCMS's Remedy record where the group falls back on their string-band-on-fire shtick, and reviews I've read largely overlook "Dearly Departed Friend" for more obvious choices like the more typical "Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer" (which is still a great song).  Songs like this one, however, offer moments of deeper songwriting maturity. 

Also on this episode, Shovels & Rope and Kasey Chambers both surprise with the aggression of their new music, boasting guitar buzz and spit.  We return to A. A. Bondy's debut solo record, which is way stronger than I recall.  Indie folk acts the Barr Brothers and Angus & Julia Stone bring subtle new offerings to the table on what proves to be a darker, more introspective second hour. 

*   Lou Ford, "How Does It Feel"  Sad But Familiar  (You Know What, 97)
*  Loudermilks, "Georgia Pines"  The Loudermilks  (You Know What, 14)
*  Deadwood Saints, "My Irene"  6th Street and Trinity  (Self, 14)  C
*  Malcolm Holcombe, "Pitiful Blues"  Pitiful Blues  (Gypsyeyes, 14)  D
*  Zoe Muth, "Too Shiny"  World of Strangers  (Signature Sounds, 14)
*  Denver, "Bound to Lose"  Rowdy Love  (Mama Bird, 14)
*  AA Bondy, "Killed Myself When I Was Young"  American Hearts  (Superphonic, 07)
*  Kasey Chambers, "Wheelbarrow"  Bittersweet  (Essence, 14)  D
*  Howlin' Brothers, "Pour It Down"  Trouble  (Readymade, 14)
>  Old Crow Medicine Show, "Dearly Departed Friend"  Remedy  (ATO, 14)
*  Trampled By Turtles, "Wild Animals"  Wild Animals  (Banjodad, 14)
*  Shovels & Rope, "Coping Mechanism"  Swimmin' Time  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Sturgill Simpson, "Living the Dream"  Metamodern Sounds In Country Music  (High Top Mt, 14)
*  Billy Joe Shaver, "Sunbeam Special"  Long In the Tooth  (Lightning Rod, 14)  D
*  Donkeys, "Shines"  Ride the Black Wave  (Self, 14)
*  Felice Brothers, "Bird On a Broken Wing"  Favorite Waitress  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Sarah Borges, "Record On Repeat"  Radio Sweetheart  (Lonesome Day, 14)
*  Dave & Phil Alvin, "Tomorrow"  Common Ground  (Yep Roc, 14)
*  Barr Brothers, "Even the Darkness Has Arms"  Sleeping Operator  (Secret City, 14)  D
*  Angus & Julia Stone, "Death Defying Acts"  Angus & Julia Stone  (Republic, 14)  D
*  Joe Henry, "Grave Angels"  Invisible Hour  (Worksong, 14)
*  Jayhawks, "Five Cornered Blues (demo)"  Smile (reissue)  (American, 14)
*  Collin Herring, "Psycopaths"  Some Knives  (Self, 14)  D
*  Centro-Matic, "Every Mission"  Take Pride In Your Long Odds  (Self,  14)
*  Anders Parker, "Silver Yonder"  There's a Bluebird In My Soul  (Recorded & Freed, 14)
*  Ryan Adams, "Gimme Something Good"  Ryan Adams  (PaxAm, 14)
*  Christopher Denny, "Watch Me Shine"  If the Roses Don't Kill Us  (Partisan, 14)
*  Jim Lauderdale, "End of the World Rag"  I'm a Song  (Sky Crunch, 14)  D

Sunday, July 06, 2014

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
July 5, 2014
Scott Foley

So so many quality songs on this Episode:  Old, new and otherwise.  Here's a classic line from last year's "Coley", by Left Lane Cruiser (if I'm hearing them correctly ... ):  Remember the time we took a ride in my long 1987 Chevy / Free Fallin' playin' on the radio got you talkin' 'bout how much you hate Tom Petty / I said girl now look right here you know that's some goddamn classic american rock 'n roll / There's just certain kinda things you need to understand before we can move on ...  We also gave some radio love to a fantastic single by Cory Branan, and heard Mr and Mrs Isbell give Springsteen's "Born In the USA" the treatment it's always merited.  The proverbial cherry topper happened when Jeremy Grant stopped by unannounced with a copy of Deadwood Saints' excellent full length debut.  To quote Natalie Merchant for not the first time in my life, "These are the days you'll remember ..." 

I'd like to finish by focusing on another surprise from the week.  Namely, the arrival of the Loudermilks' debut CD.  Fronted by brothers Alan and Chad Edwards, the North Carolina band takes their name from another renowned pair of sibs, Charlie and Ira Louvin (nee Charlie and Ira Loudermilk).  Nobody here is new to the scene.  For years, the Brothers Edwards dispensed attitude under the name Lou Ford.  While not so edgy as that previous band, the Loudermilks' musical reach proves to be more generous, encompassing rural pop moments as well as darker, moodier elements and pure country, too.  The band itself stakes claim to the sprawling musical acreage between the Louvins and Big Star.  This allows the Loudermilks to embrace the best of both worlds, the spirit and structure of early trad country, gospel and grass and the pure pop and punk roots of the latter.  Free of stereotypes, their talent appeals as equally to the heart and the head (as evidenced by their CD jacket, a flat black field encompassing a stark white heart on one side and a brain on the reverse).  Like the best brother songs, Alan and Chad thrive equally on harmony and dis-harmony.  This barbed spirit is especially evident in tunes like "The Plan":  You always said we were gonna get what we deserve / But you never meant a word ... / What about the plan / Could've been us instead of them.  The bitterness that might have been off-putting is tempered by the sweetness of the brothers' pop harmonies.  For me, it's the Loudermilks' most endearing quality, the pervasive darkness flawed just enough to allow for the possibility of redemptive light.  After years of near misses and sabotaged opportunities with Lou Ford, perhaps this new project will garner the Edwards their long deserved attention. 

*  Giant Sand, "Every Grain of Sand"  Swerve  (Fire, 90)
*  John Hiatt, "Long Time Comin'"  Terms of My Surrender  (New West, 14)
*  Corb Lund, "Counterfeiters' Blues"  Counterfeiters' Blues  (New West, 14)
*  Hard Pans, "Ain't Gonna Have It"  Budget Cuts  (High Plains Films, 14)
*  Left Lane Cruiser, "Coley"  Rock Them Back To Hell  (Alive NaturalSound, 13)
*  Cory Branan, "No Hit Wonder"  No Hit Wonder  (Bloodshot, 14)  D
*  Sarah Borges, "Waiting and the Worry"  Radio Sweetheart  (Lonesome Day, 14)
*  Old 97s, "Let's Get Drunk and Get It On"  Most Messed Up  (ATO, 14)
*  Caleb Caudle, "Come On October"  Paint Another Layer On My Heart  (This is Amer Music, 14)
*  Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, "Born In the USA"  Dead Man's Town  (Lightning Rod, 14)  D
*  Drag the River, "Hey Tonight"  Bother Me Tomorrow: Indie Tribute to CCR  (Tan & Blue, 14)  D, C
*  Fire Mountain, "Wired and Dying"  All Dies Down  (This is Amer Music, 14)
*  Blue Mountain, "Special Rider Blues"  Dog Days  (Roadrunner, 95)
*  Mastersons, "Anywhere But Here"  Good Luck Charm  (New West, 14)
^  Loudermilks, "Quite Honestly"  Loudermilks  (You Know What ... 14)  D
*  First Aid Kit, "Heaven Knows"  Stay Gold  (Columbia, 14)
*  Jonah Tolchin, "Hybrid Automobile"  Clover Lane  (Yep Roc, 14)
*  Goodnight Texas, "Bank Robber's Nursery Rhyme"  Uncle John Farquhar  (Self, 14)  D
*  Puss N Boots, "GTO"  No Fools No Fun  (Blue Note, 14)
*  Hurray For the Riff Raff, "Just a Heart"  My Dearest Darkest Neighbor  (This is Amer Music, 13)
*  Denver, "Carry On"  Rowdy Love  (Mama Bird, 14)  D
*  Son Volt, "Back Into Your World"  Straightaways  (Warner, 97)
*  NQ Arbuckle, "Sleepy Wife"  Future Happens Anyway  (Six Shooter, 14)
*  Deadwood Saints, "6th Street and Trinity"  6th Street and Trinity  (Self, 14)  D, C
*  Jayhawks, "Waiting For Salvation"  Rainy Day Music (reissue)  (American, 14)  D