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Sunday, September 14, 2014

 
ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
September 13, 2014
Scott Foley


A couple years ago, Sons of Bill garnered some prime R&B attention with their Sirens release.  Even further back (remember 2009?), the Virginia band’s “Broken Bottles” landed near the top of my yearly countdown of favorite songs.  Fronted by the titular Wilson brothers, Sons of Bill has evolved over the years from Reckless Kelly-esque red dirt roots rockers to a smart, contemporary Americana act that could be comfortable in both bars and arenas.  SOB have traditionally had great luck with their producers, tagging both Jim Scott and David Lowery for previous albums, and that streak continues here.  As producer, former Uncle Tupelo/Wilco drummer Ken Coomer ably eases this transition on the band’s mature and relevant new Love and Logic release.  Whereas early Sons songs rarely made it out of the roadhouse, there’s a real life existential element to these new tunes.  Still firmly rooted in Southern tradition, they’ve chosen to leave the bars ‘n broads stereotypes to less capable bands.  Once Southern boys they all loved RE Lee / Once Southern girls loved REM / Were they all in confederacy against you / Or were you just like them”.  Even more traditional faire like the bucolic “Fishing Song” makes less obvious choices:  I want to go fishing. I want to feel the sunshine / And I want Heaven and Hell to disappear as I cast a line”.  Thoughtfulness and adult uncertainty dictate the spirit of Love and Logic.   There’s no romantic, Springsteen-like “Santa Ana Winds” driven by youthful optimism.  Instead, “Hymnsong” gives us, “We're convinced that there's a cadence to the murmurs in the dark / Rapt in patient arbitration between our weary head and heart”.  While some bands never escape the stereotype and others try hard to become something they’re not, Sons of Bill find great success in exploring the boundaries of who they are.  

Also on this Episode, Ronnie Fauss bravely and ably covers on of my favorite songs of the decade.   Lucinda further cements my assertion that this year marks the return of soul to americana, and I entertain the dawning realization that Lee Ann Womack's new covers record is way more than just a grasping for attention by an expired mainstream country artist. 


*  Lambchop, "Sharing a Gibson With Martin Luther King Jr."  OH (Ohio)  (Merge, 08)
*  Yawpers, "Rock Bottom"  Capon Crusade  (Self, 2012)  C
*  Reed Foehl, "Rodeo Clown"  Lost In the West  (NeverFoehl, 14)  C
*  Puss N Boots, "Jesus, Etc"  No Fools No Fun  (Blue Note, 14)
*  Steelism, "Marfa Lights"  915 To Fame  (Single Lock, 14)
*  Robert Earl Keen, "Shades of Gray"  Picnic  (Sugar Hill, 97)
*  Sid Griffin, "Elvis Presley Calls His Mother After the Ed Sullivan Show"  Trick Is To Breathe  (Prima, 14)  D
*  Lee Ann Womack, "All His Saints"  Way I'm Livin'  (Sugar Hill, 14)
*  Marty Stuart w/Mavis Staples, "Uncloudy Day"  Saturday Night / Sunday Morning  (Superlatone, 14)  D
*  Nikki Lane, "Seein' Double"  All Or Nothin'  (New West, 14)
*  Hard Pans, "What's Coming"  Budget Cuts  (High Plains Film, 14)
*  Gourds, "Moon Gone Down"  Noble Creatures  (Yep Roc, 07)
*  Psycho Sisters, "Fun To Lie"  Up On the Chair Beatrice  (Rockbeat, 14)  D
*  Arliss Nancy, "Saint Forgot"  Simple Machines  (Suburban Home, 12)  C
*  Lucinda Williams, "Stand Right By Each Other"  Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone  (Hwy 20, 14)
*  Shakey Graves, "Big Time Nashville Star"  And the War Came  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Los Straitjackets w/Deke Dickerson, "Honky Tonk"  Sings the Instrumental Hits  (Yep Roc, 14)  D
*  Untamed Youth, "Angel Face"  Untamed Melodies  (Norton, 96)
*  Luke Winslow-King, "Cadillac Slim"  Everlasting Arms  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Larkin Poe, "Crown of Fire"  KIN  (RH, 14)  D
*  Israel Nash, "Myer Canyon"  Israel Nash's Rain Plains  (Loose, 14)
*  Hard Working Americans, "Play a Train Song (live)"  First Waltz  (Melvin, 14)
*  Ronnie Fauss, "Song For Zula"  Built To Break  (New West, 14)  D
*  Lydia Loveless, "Bad Way To Go"  Indestructible Machine  (Bloodshot, 11)
*  Pieta Brown, "Before Gas & TV"  Paradise Outlaw  (Red House, 14)
^  Sons of Bill, "Arms of the Landslide"  Love & Logic  (Thirty Tigers, 14)
*  Otis Gibbs, "No Rust On My Spade"  Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth  (Wanamaker, 14)

Sunday, September 07, 2014

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
September 6, 2014
Scott Foley

Last year, I received a no-frills package in the mail, containing a plain sleeved CD copy of Israel Nash's new album.  This lack of fanfare struck me as odd, given his superb 2011 album, Barn Doors
& Concrete Floors (which boasted one of my favorite songs of the year in "Drown", along with that song's perfectly fine video which featured a cameo from Bigfoot ... or perhaps Sasquatch).  Turns out, he was restricting the initial release of Israel Nash's Rain Plans to Europe.  In the wake of a strong overseas reception, the Dripping Springs, Texas resident (gateway to the Hill Country) has finally orchestrated a formal release for his new music here at home.  I'm sure there's a good story behind dropping the "Gripka" from the end of his name; perhaps it was tied in to his move from New York in the time since Barn Doors.  No matter, Rain Plans is quite a different beast, a heavy country-rock monster that recalls the classics of the 70s.  Nash has commented that he sought to create an album that sounded like what he saw in his new home.  Apparently, Dripping Springs looks a bit like Laurel Canyon.  I don't think I've come across a review of Nash's third release that refrains from making the Neil Young comparison.  While there is a similar keen to his voice, Nash is a far stronger vocalist.  A more accurate comparison might be to Young's Crazy Horse, who play with a similar wall of sound as Nash's touring band.  Electric guitars compete with pedal steel and vocals in a thick production that emphasizes the neo-psychedelic roots of his songs.  The seven-plus minute title track is especially evocative, a heavy country-rock number that wouldn't have been out of place revolving on a 70s LP.   I would even throw in Marshall Tucker or the Band as touchstones, especially on pieces with a lighter touch, like "Myer Canyon".  In the end, it's a lovely, shambling masterpiece - the portrait of a haunted man wandering through the Texas Hill Country. 

This Episode also marks the debut of Colorado singer-songwriter Reed Foehl's long awaited new record.  Lost In the West is a step in the americana direction for Foehl, after the more folk oriented Once a River.  "Four Lanes" sounds like the dream collaboration between early Neil Young and late Ryan Adams, as arranged by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon.  The desert-dry pedal steel alone is worth the price of admission on this one.  My guess is that programmers will gravitate towards the more standard cuts like the upbeat "Caroline" (I could do an entire R&B Episode playing only songs with "Caroline" in the title), but I've certainly found my favorite track elsewhere.  See also:  "The Kill", where Foehl gets his falsetto on:  "I came in for the happiness / I came in for the Kill / But I walked out with nothing left to spill".  Not to mention the epic guitar on "Rodeo Clown" ...  

^  Israel Nash, "Rexanimarum"  Israel Nash's Rain Plans  (Loose, 14)
*  Elliott BROOD, "Jigsaw Heart"  Work and Love  (Paper Bag, 14)
*  Ben Miller Band, "The Outsider"  Any Way Shape or Form  (New West, 14)
*  Greensky Bluegrass, "Forget Everything"  If Sorrows Swim  (Thirty Tigers, 14)
*  Laura Cantrell, "Way It Is"  Not the Tremblin' Kind  (Diesel Only, 00)
*  Cahalen Morrison & Country Hammer, "Over and Over and Over Again"  Flower of Muscle Shoals  (Free Dirt, 14)
*  Jim Lauderdale, "Neon Hearts"  I'm a Song  (Sky Crunch, 14)
*  Hard Working Americans w/Rosanne Cash, "Come From the Heart"  First Waltz  (Melvin, 14)  D
^  Reed Foehl, "Four Lanes"  Lost In the West  (NeverFoehl, 14)  C, D
*  Lee Ann Womack, "When I Come Around"  The Way I'm Livin'  (Sugar Hill, 14)  D
*  Waco Brothers, "How Fast the Time"  Freedom & Weep  (Bloodshot, 05)
*  Billy Joe Shaver, "Sunbeam Special"  Long In the Tooth  (Lightning Rod, 14)
*  Kill County, "Beat Up Iron"  Broken Glass In the Sun  (Self, 14) D
*  Somebody's Darling, "Bad Bad"  Adult Roommates  (Self, 14)  D
*  Lucero, "It May Be Too Late (live)"  Live From Atlanta  (Liberty + Lament, 14)
*  Ryan Adams, "My Wrecking Ball"  Ryan Adams  (PaxAm, 14)
*  Walter Salas-Humara, "Hoping For a Comeback"  Curve and Shake  (Sonic Pyramid, 14)
*  Silos, "Tennessee Fire"  Cuba  (Dualtone, 87)
*  David Mayfield, "Rain On My Parade"  Strangers  (Compass, 14)  D
*  Goodnight Texas, "I Just Can't Stop Leaving Town"  Uncle John Farquhar  (Tallest Man, 14)
*  Joe Pug, "Downbound Train"  Dead Man's Town  (Lightning Rod, 14)
*  Caitlin Rose, "That's Alright"  Own Side Now  (Theory 8, 11)
*  Hiss Golden Messenger, "Mahogany Dread"  Lateness of Dancers  (Merge, 14)
*  Tweedy, "Flowering"  Sukierae  (dbPm, 14)
*  New Basement Tapes, "Nothing To It"  Lost On the River  (Harvest, 14)
*  Quiet Life, "Housebroken Man"  Housebroken Man  (Mama Bird, 14)
*  Loudermilks, "Broken Record"  Loudermilks  (You Know What, 14)

Saturday, August 30, 2014

ROUTES & BRANCHES  
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
August 30, 2014
Scott Foley

This Episode marks possibly the first time in my radio history that I didn't debut a new CD.  Lots of forthcoming stuff we're just getting to know (Lucinda Williams, Pine Hill Haints, Holy Ghost Electric Show), but nothing I've not at least dipped into before.  Still, I stand back and admire it, like a man who has just mowed his lawn might admire his fresh cut grass, and I like what I see.  This week, I moved my entire collection of americana music onto some roomier new shelves in the basement.  Just being able to alphabetize everything, to touch every CD, I came across some great stuff I'll be sharing over the next couple weeks. 

In the meantime, let's talk Ryan Adams, probably the patron saint of Routes & Branches, at least in terms of contemporary artists.  Since his unsurpassable 2000 solo debut,  Heartbreaker, it seems he has spent his career trying on new personae.  From Gold's blue jean rocker to his Grateful Dead period with the Cardinals, most notably on the double CD Cold Roses.  He's been an enfant terrible, a punk, a casualty and Pitchfork's favorite whipping boy.  Finally, with his new self titled album, Ryan Adams might be settling down to be ... Ryan Adams.  To be fair, this period probably began with 2011's Ashes & Fire, a record that came across as so effortless, so unpretentious some wrongly wrote it off as simply a dull collection.  A notoriously prolific writer, Adams can be a peerless lyricist at his best moments.  Remarkably, however, both Ashes and this new CD abandon any verbal dazzle and simply embrace the vernacular.  "Nothing much left in the tank / Somehow this thing still drives / Like it forgot what it needed."  A+ for imagery, but a far cry from Be my winding wheel.  Which isn't by any means to complain, but rather to celebrate a Ryan Adams who is seemingly comfortable and confident in his musical skin.  Songs like "Tired of Giving Up" simmer, but even the roots pop gem "Gimme Something Good" takes its sweet time rising to an indelible chorus.  Who knows if reported domestic bliss or relative health have brought Adams happiness:  "There ain't no one inside / Staring through the screen / Looking back at my fucking life"  Who knows.  Lines can be drawn between distinct stages in his career.  For now, this stuff is sweet.  Like Ashes & Fire, it is effortless. 


*  Jolie Holland, "Love You Save"  Wine Dark Sea  (Anti, 14)
*  Frazey Ford, "You Got Religion"  Indian Ocean  (Nettwerk, 14)
*  Be Good Tanyas, "In Spite of All the Damage"  Chinatown  (Nettwerk, 03)
*  Jonah Tolchin, "Midnight Rain"  Clover Lane  (Yep Roc, 14)
*  Whiskey Shivers, "Pray For Me"  Whiskey Shivers  (Self, 14)
*  Pine Hill Haints, "Galaxy Buffalo"  Magick Sounds of ...  (K, 14)
*  Greensky Bluegrass, "Burn Them"  If Sorrow Swim  (Thirty Tigers, 14)
*  Caroline Rose, "Time Spent Money Grow"  I Will Not Be Afraid  (Little Hi!, 14)
*  Ryan Adams, "Tired of Giving Up"  Ryan Adams  (PaxAm, 14)
*  Mando Saenz, "Pocket Change"  Studebaker  (Carnival, 13)
*  Cory Branan, "No Hit Wonder"  No Hit Wonder  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Lucinda Williams, "Stowaway In Your Heart"  Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone  (Hwy 20, 14)
*  Pieta Brown, "Painter's Hands"  Paradise Outlaw  (Red House, 14)
*  John Hiatt, "Marlene"  Terms of My Surrender  (New West, 14)
*  Paul Thorn, "I Backslide On Friday"  Too Blessed To Be Stressed  (Perpetual Obscurity, 14)
*  Justin Townes Earle, "Time Shows Fools"  Single Mothers  (Vagrant, 14)
*  Hurray For the Riff Raff, "Body Electric"  Small Town Heroes  (ATO, 14)
*  Holy Ghost Electric Show, "Tin Man"  Great American HGES  (This is Amer Music, 14)
*  Hearts of Oak, "New England"  New England  (Deer Lodge, 14)
*  Sons of Bill, "Bad Dancer"  Love & Logic  (Thirty Tigers, 14)
*  Shovels & Rope, "Mary Ann & One Eyed Dan"  Swimmin' Time  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Tim Barry, "Bozeman"  28th & Stonewall  (Suburban Home, 10)
*  Blitzen Trapper, "Working On the Highway"  Dead Man's Town  (Lightning Rod, 14)
*  Israel Nash, "Rain Plans"  Israel Nash's Rain Plans  (Loose, 14)
*  Christopher Denny, "Radio"  If the Roses Don't Kill Us  (Partisan, 14)
*  Shelby Lynne, "Gotta Get Back"  I Am Shelby Lynne  (Island, 00)
*  Matt Hillyer, "Dancing With the Moon"  If These Old Bones Could Talk  (Run Up Tree, 14)
*  Denver, "Rowdy Love"  Rowdy Love  (Mama Bird, 14)

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ROUTES & BRANCHES  
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
August 23, 2014
Scott Foley

In all of americana, is there a more distinct, beautifully alien sound than the blended voices of Be Good Tanyas? In the span of three studio records, Trish Klein, Samantha Parton and Frazey Ford trademarked a sound that has yet to be replicated.  Plus, they performed one of my favorite covers of all time on "When Doves Cry", a hidden track on 2006's Hello Love

While Jolie Holland officially departed the group she helped to found early on, her influence carries throughout all three records as a writer, a vocalist and instrumentalist.  Holland's solo debut came via a curious assemblage of lo-fi demos in 2003's Catalpa.  Subsequent records have proven her to be a multifaceted talent, with music ranging from early folk to experimental jazz depending on where the needle drops.  I've been playing Holland's most recent album since its May release.  Wine Dark Sea launches into the dark and fractured soundscape of "Dark Days".  To foster the adventurous spirit of the collection, Holland gathered two drummers, a trio of guitarists, as well as bass and woodwinds, with most of the players hailing from New York City's experimental music scene.  To her immense credit, rather than being buried by the musical ambition, Holland seems fully in charge of the proceedings.   Even on a seemingly straightforward cut like the parlor folk of "Route 30", the touch of electric guitar distortion and the somewhat rude baritone sax lift Holland's arrangement beyond the obvious.  "All the Love" is pure soul (replete with a clarinet solo broadcast via a dysfunctional amp). 

A current Tanya, Frazey Ford, has just issued her second solo record.  For her part, Ford collaborates
with Al Green's legendary Hi Rhythm Section:  Charles, Leroy and the late Teenie Hodges.  The presence of the Hodges could easily overshadow a lesser artist, though here the brothers seem fully at the service of Ford's idiosyncratic vocals. Having become so familiar at the helm of the Be Good Tanyas, the originality of her voice and her vocal choices remain at center stage.  While she chooses to remain more musically grounded than Holland, there is still so much soul in tracks like "Runnin'" or "You Got Religion" that anything added would seem inappropriate.   Even the relatively contemporary groove on "Done", with its epithets and broiling resentment, comes across as smoothly swinging. 

Aside from their respective roots, much of what binds these releases is their pervasive soul, a quality so frequently lacking in our kind of music.  I would argue, however, that it's actually been quite a year for soulful americana, between Christopher Denny's gospel tinged numbers and Justin Townes Earle's easy country-soul on Single Mothers.  And then there's Benjamin Booker.  While the presence of horns and keys certainly doesn't hurt, it takes more than instrumentation to generate the genuine soul evident in both Holland and Ford.  As writers, arrangers and vocalists, both present a fuller picture of the range of American music, from jazz to blues, country to gospel and folk. 


*  Sadies, "Walking Boss"  Pure Diamond Gold  (Bloodshot, 99)
*  Cory Branan, "Daddy Was a Skywriter"  No-Hit Wonder  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Matt Woods, "Lucero Song"  With Love From Brushy Mountain  (Lonely Ones, 14)
*  Lucero, "What Else Would You Have Me Be (live)"  Live From Atlanta  (Liberty & Lament, 14)
*  Deadwood Saints, "My Irene"  6th Street and Trinity  (Self, 14)  C
*  Lucinda Williams, "Burning Bridges"  Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone  (Hwy 20, 14)   D
*  Emmylou Harris & Milk Carton Kids, "Apache Tears"  Look Again To the Wind  (Sony, 14)
*  Ray Charles, "Ring of Fire"  Ray Charles Forever  (Concord, 13)
*  Benjamin Booker, "Wicked Waters"  Benjamin Booker  (ATO, 14)
*  Sturgill Simpson, "Life of Sin"  Metamodern Sounds in Country Music  (High Top Mt, 14)
*  Pieta Brown, "Before Gas & TV"  Paradise Outlaw  (Red House, 14)  D
*  Hiss Golden Messenger, "I'm a Raven"  Lateness of Dancers  (Merge, 14)
*  Court & Spark, "Denver Annie"  Witch Season  (Absolutely Kosher, 04)
^  Frazey Ford, "Done"  Indian Ocean  (Nettwerk, 14)
*  Tweedy, "High as Hello"  Sukierae  (dbPm, 14)
*  Steelism, "Landlocked Surfer"  915 to Fame  (Single Lock, 14)
*  Caroline Rose, "Blood On Your Bootheels"   I Will Not Be Afraid  (Little Hi!, 14)  D
*  Justin Townes Earle, "Worried Bout the Weather"  Single Mothers  (Vagrant, 14)
*  Elliott BROOD, "Jigsaw Heart"  Work and Love  (Paper Bag, 14)  D
*  Drew Kennedy, "Cold Goodnight (live)"  Sad Songs Happily Played  (Self, 14)
*  Josh Grider, "One Night Taco Stand"  Luck & Desire  (Amp, 14)  D
*  Greensky Bluegrass, "Windshield"  If Sorrows Swim  (Thirty Tigers, 14)   D
*  Cahalen Morrison & Country Hammer, "Sorrow Lines the Highway of Regret"  Flower of Muscle Shoals  (Free Dirt, 14)
*  New Basement Tapes, "Nothing To It"  Lost On the River  (Harvest, 14)   D
*  Ryan Adams, "My Wrecking Ball"  Ryan Adams  (PaxAm, 14)
*  Chuck Prophet, "Lonely Desolation"  Night Surfer  (Yep Roc, 14)
*  Walter Salas-Humara, "Satellite"  Curve and Shake  (Sonic Pyramid, 14)  D
*  Sons of Bill, "Brand New Paradigm"  Love & Logic  (Thirty Tigers, 14)  D
*  Ben Miller Band, "Ghosts"  Any Way Shape or Form  (New West, 14)
*  Holy Ghost Electric Show, "Kerosene Heater Blues"  Great American Holy Ghost Electric Show  (This is American Music, 14)  D

Sunday, August 17, 2014



ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country 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


ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country 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

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country 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