Sunday, June 26, 2022

ROUTES-cast June 26, 2022

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
June 26, 2022
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

Just yesterday we were looking at our thirty favorite records for the first half of 2022. Today we'll turn our attention back to songs, for a quick run through our top ten tunes for the month that's just about passed. If you will, please file this under Too Much Good Stuff, since we had to leave some great stuff on the cutting room floor. 


1. Abby Hamilton, "Trailer Park Queen" single  (Hamilton, Jun 3)
2. Wilder Maker, "Letter of Apology" Male Models  (Western Vinyl, Jul 29)
3. SG Goodman, "If You Were Someone I Loved" Teeth Marks  (Verve, Jun 3)
4. Katy J Pearson, "Float" Sound of the Morning  (PIAS, Jul 8)
5. Will Stewart, "New World Daydream" Slow Life  (Cornelius Chapel, Aug 5)
6. Nikki Lane, "First High" Denim & Diamonds  (New West, Sep 23)
7. Bonny Light Horseman, "California" Rolling Golden Holy  (37d03d, Oct 7)
8. Arlo McKinley, "Back Home (feat. Logan Halstead)" This Mess We're In  (Oh Boy, Jul 15)
9. Courtney Marie Andrews, "Satellite" Loose Future  (Fat Possum, Oct 7)
10. Angel Olsen, "All the Flowers" Big Time  (Jagjaguwar, Jun 3)


ROUTES-cast JUNE 26, 2022

- John Moreland, "Cheap Idols Dressed in Expensive Garbage" Birds in the Ceiling  (Old Omens, Jul 22)
- Alela Diane, "Paloma" single  (Naive, 22)  D
- Caamp, "Fever" Lavender Days  (Mom + Pop, 22)
- Cory Branan, "That Look I Lost" single  (Blue Elan, 22)  D
- Amanda Shires, "Take it Like a Man" Take it Like a Man  (ATO, Jul 29)
- Kevin Galloway, "Luckiest Creole in Terrebonne Parish" Secondhand Starlight  (Nine Mile, 22)
- Kelsey Waldon, "Tall and Mighty" No Regular Dog  (Oh Boy, Aug 12)
- Vandoliers, "Howlin'" Vandoliers  (Amerikinda, Aug 12)
- Hackensaw Boys, "Old New Mexico" Hackensaw Boys  (Suns Work, 22)
- Chris Canterbury, "Devil the Dealer & Me" Quaalude Lullabies  (Rancho Deluxe, Sep 23)  D
^ Teddy & the Rough Riders, "Dance Floor Blues" Teddy & the Rough Riders  (Appalachia, Jul 1)
- Grahams, "Fade Into You" 3Sirens Presents: With Love Part 1  (3Sirens, Jul 8)
- Eli Winter, "For a Chisos Bluebonnet" Eli Winter  (Three Lobed, Aug 19)  D
- Joan Shelley, "Forever Blues" The Spur  (No Quarter, 22)
- Field Guides, "City is a Painting" Gingko  (Whatever's Clever, 22)
- Katy J Pearson, "Talk Over Town" Sound of the Morning  (PIAS, Jul 8)
- Andrew Combs, "The Ship" Sundays  (Tone Tree, Aug 19)
- Damien Jurado, "Ready for My Close-Up" Reggae Film Star  (Maraqopa, 22)
- Drew Kennedy, "Hi-Ho Silver" Marathon  (Atlas Aurora, 22)
- Nicki Bluhm, "Juniper Woodsmoke" Avondale Drive  (Compass, 22)
- Parker Twomey, "Til the Morning Comes" All This Life  (Twomey, Jul 15)
- Ralph White, "Feral Chile" It's More In My Body Than In My Mind  (Worried Songs, 22)
- First Aid Kit, "Angel" single  (Columbia, 22)  D
- Steve Earle, "Wheel" Jerry Jeff  (New West, 22)
- Parker Gispert, "Golden Years" Golden Years  (Normaltown, Sep 2)  D
- Nathan Kalish, "Over My Head" Great Big Motel Bed in the Sky  (JTM, Jul 22)
- Peter Matthew Bauer, "Skulls" Flowers  (Fortune Tellers, Sep 23)
- Marcus King, "Lie Lie Lie" Young Blood  (American, Aug 26)
- Goose, "Borne" Dripfield  (No Coincidence, 22)  D
- Wilco, "Kamera (Unified Theory of Everything Version)" Yankee Hotel Foxtrot (Deluxe Edition)  (Nonesuch, Sep 16)

To enjoy our weekly Spotify ROUTES-cast, just open Spotify and search for "routesandbranches" to access this most recent playlist, as well as many others from past months.  Or click here for a preview:

Saturday, June 25, 2022


featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
June 25, 2022
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

No more talk about the new normal. Ain't no such thing. The world changes, the great world spins, and we're each left to find something stable to hold onto. Here at R&B HQ, we find that steadying influence in music discovery. We don't necessarily lean hard into the familiar, but trust in the sustainable comfort that is gained from the solid fact that there will always be new music. Our hope is that, in the whirlwind of your daily daze, you can find solace and even strength in the knowledge that you'll have a brand new Spotify ROUTES-cast every Sunday. Thirty songs to add to your heart. 

With more than a little patience and perseverance, we've arrived at the halfway point of 2022. From this vantage we can risk a glance back at the past twenty-six weeks of music discovery (doing math: 780 new songs), and decide what to hold onto. Pretty recently, we've shifted our focus from albums to singles, but for this look back we'll consider records again. Because it's what we do, we'll present these in order of appearance, and we'll call it: 


> Ryan Culwell, Run Like a Bull  (Culwell, Jan 28)
- Anais Mitchell, Anais Mitchell  (BMG, Jan 28)
- Kill County, All That Remains  (573668, Feb 1)
- Erin Rae, Lighten Up  (Good Memory, Feb 4)
> Big Thief, Dragon New Warm Mountain I Believe In You  (4AD, Feb 11)
> Sarah Shook & the Disarmers, Nightroamer  (Abeyance, Feb 18)
- Hurray for the Riff Raff, Life on Earth  (Nonesuch, Feb 18)
> Sophie & the Broken Things, Delusions of Grandeur  (Petaluma, Feb 25)
- Carson McHone, Still Life  (Merge, Feb 25)
- Justin Peter Kinkel-Schuster, No Tongue Can Tell  (Constant Stranger, Mar 4)
- Hailey Whitters, Raised  (Pigasus, Mar 18)
- Ian Noe, River Fools & Mountain Saints  (Lock 13, Mar 25)
- Dead Tongues, Dust  (Psychic Hotline, Apr 1)
- Paul Cauthen, Country Coming Down  (Velvet Rose, Apr 1)
> Orville Peck, Bronco  (Columbia, Apr 8)
- David Quinn, Country Fresh  (Down Home, Apr 15)
- Joshua Hedley, Neon Blue  (New West, Apr 22)
> Caroline Spence, True North  (Rounder, Apr 29)
- MJ Lenderman, Boat Songs  (Dear Life, Apr 29)
> 49 Winchester, Fortune Favors the Bold  (New West, May 13)
- Thomas Dollbaum, Wellswood  (Big Legal Mess, May 20)
- Zach Bryan, American Heartbreak  (Belting Bronco, May 20)
- Laney Jones, Stories Up High  (Tone Tree, May 20)
- Left Arm Tan, Undefeated  (LAT, May 20)
- Wilco, Cruel Country  (dBPM, May 27)
> SG Goodman, Teeth Marks  (Verve, Jun 3)
> Angel Olsen, Big Time  (Jagjaguwar, Jun 3)
- Drive-by Truckers, Welcome 2 Club XIII  (ATO, Jun 3)
> American Aquarium, Chicamacomico  (Losing Side, Jun 10)
- David Newbould, Power Up!  (Blackbird, Jun 10)

spoiler: the ten LPs featuring a greater-than sign (>) just might be a little better than the others ...

So check back tomorrow for our weekly Spotify ROUTES-cast. And hold on tight ...

Monday, June 20, 2022


featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
June 20, 2022
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

In the larger what I did during the pandemic conversation, BJ Barham apparently engaged in some woodshedding. In addition to uploading several kitchen table videos of acoustic covers, the American Aquarium frontman released a pair of records: Slappers, Bangers & Certified Twangers, Volumes 1 & 2. These entertaining sessions featured Barham's band enthusiastically sharing their faithful take on familiar mainstream country hits from the 80s and 90s. American Aquarium sounded great, like a group playing from their pocket, communicating in their mother tongue. 

The band seemingly leaves that woodshed for their ninth album, Chicamacomico, a collection that shares more with Barham's 2016 Rockingham solo set than with American Aquarium's rowdier early work. This has been the trajectory since 2012's Jason Isbell-produced Burn Flicker Die, as the songwriter has focused more on issues of domestic drama than navigating the potholes of a life on the road. While this new project bears the name of his evolving backing band, Chicamacomico is the product of the songwriter's vision. 

Barham's ten new songs address issues of loss and recovery - loss of a friend to suicide, of an unborn child, of a spouse after a lifetime together. Rather than raging against the dark, we catch American Aquarium reflecting on lessons learned and on possible ways forward, not unlike the stages of grief as set to a simmering americana backdrop. On the title track, the narrator feels the full brunt of the loss of his unborn child: I swear I'm gonna lose my mind / If I have to hear about God's plan one more goddamn time. Hand-in-hand with his spouse, they step off the North Carolina coast in search of a cleansing. Building on its rubbery guitar and tick-tock percussion, "Wildfire" finds the cleansing in flames: If there's one thing I've learned / There's a part of death that's magic

Chicamacomico is not a full-band album per se, at least not in the way we've grown accustomed to American Aquarium. When pedal steel and electric guitar kick in, it's in service to Barham's songwriting. "Just Close Enough" is a shuffle, its short solos like embers of hope as opposed to raging fires. These new songs are relatively brief and direct, with no sprawling passages, the individual parts in support of the simmering whole. And with so much focused on his writing, Barham's lyrics shine brighter than ever. The narrator of "First Year" experiences the passage of time in the wake of his mother's death: All my friends say it gets easier / All my friends have been known to be wrong. So much light and shadow is communicated in a turn of phrase. Singing to a departed spouse on "Hardest Thing": The flowers you planted in the Spring / Even though my thumb ain't green / I think they're gonna make it

BJ Barham is a different man than the guy who posited himself on the losing side of 25. He might still be subject to the Southern sadness that has always been a part of his muse, but he's matured and become more mindful. He's earned perspective even during the pandemic. With its barroom piano and lighter touch, "Little Things" shines a light on these changes: I used to be a singer with a family back home /And now I'm just a father and a husband / Who knows his way around a microphone. The sessions are given such a thoughtful touch by producer Brad Cook, who also served behind 2015's Wolves and Barham's game-changing solo set. Kate Rhudy's backing vocals provide a worthy complement to the singer's own voice. 

Time will tell how the songs of Chicamacomico sound from the stages of Summer and Fall, how they might fit alongside early ragers. There are moments where the members of American Aquarium might kick up more of an instrumental fire. "Built to Last" is an electric relationship-as-automobile track, acknowledging These scars are just the stories of the storms we've made it through. Appropriately, the collection draws to a close with a paean to the redemption inherent in music. The record's strongest moment of abandon, the full band force of "All I Needed" speaks to how a song can change our perspective: It was a savior in 3/4 time. It's a moment of integrity on a collection that wears its well-worn heart on its sleeve. American Aquarium's ninth project won't offer slappers 'n bangers, but Chicamacomico speaks truth to the source of BJ Barham's power as a songwriter. And we can't deny the power in a collection with the quiet strength of this one. 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

ROUTES-cast June 19, 2022

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
June 19, 2022
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

- Early James, "Harder to Be Alive" Strange Time to Be Alive  (Easy Eye, Aug 19)
- Katy J Pearson, "Float" Sound of the Morning  (Heavenly, Jul 8)  D
- Deslondes, "Five-Year Plan" Ways & Means  (New West, Jul 8)
- Why Bonnie, "Sailor Mouth" 90 in November  (Keeled Scales, Aug 19)
^ American Aquarium, "Little Things" Chicamacomico  (Losing Side, 22)
- Volebeats, "I Needed Someone" Lonesome Galaxy  (Mad Bunny, 22)
- Phosphorescent, "Any Old Miracle" single  (Calldown, 22)  D
- Lambchop, "Police Dog Blues" The Bible  (Merge, Sep 30)  D
- Rachel Brooke, "How Cold" single  (Brooke, 22)  D
- Damn Quails, "Harm's Way" Clouding Up Your City  (Honky Tonk Lab, 22)
- IV & the Strange Band, "Cigarette Ends" Southern Circus  (Black Country Rock, 22)
- Drew Kennedy, "Boots On My Feet" Marathon  (Atlas Aurora, 22)
- Julia Jacklin, "I Was Neon" Pre-Pleasure  (Polyvinyl, Aug 26)  D
- Murder by Death, "Everything Must Rest" Spell/Bound  (MbD, Jul 29)
- Wilco, "Country Song Upside-Down" Cruel Country  (dBpm, 22)
- Will Hoge, "John Prine's Cadillac" Wings On My Shoes  (Edlo, Aug 26)  D
- The Deer, "I Wouldn't Recognize Me" The Beautiful Undead  (Keeled Scales, Sep 9)  D
- Marlon Williams, "Thinking of Nina" My Boy  (Dead Oceans, Sep 9)  D
- Whitney, "Real Love" Spark  (Secretly Canadian, Sep 16)  D
- Watkins Family Hour, "Hypnotized" Vol II  (Family Hour, Aug 19)  D
- Glenn Jones, "John Jackson of Fairfax, Virginia" Vade Mecum  (Thrill Jockey, Jun 24)
- Trampled by Turtles, "It's So Hard to Hold On" Alpenglow  (Banjodad, Oct 28)  D
- Patty Griffin, "Little Yellow House" Tape  (PGM, 22)
- Brothers Comatose, "18 Years" When It All Falls Apart  (Brothers, Jul 22)  D
- David Newbould, "Last Letter" Power Up!  (Blackbird, 22)
- Willi Carlisle,"Vanlife" Peculiar Missouri  (Free Dirt, Jul 15)
- Marisa Anderson, "Waking" Still Here  (Thrill Jockey, Sep 23)  D
- Dead Horses, "Brady Street" Brady Street  (Vos & Wolff, Aug 12)  D
- M Lockwood Porter, "First Reformed" single  (Black Mesa, 22)  D
- Lana del Rey, "Buddy's Rendezvous (feat. Father John Misty)" single  (Sub Pop, 22)  D


Sometimes we wait to do one of these A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster updates, and the list of good stuff being added daily grows too long for us to mention all the releases that merit it. Welcome to one of those weeks. We'll dive in with a mention of Brothers Comatose, whose When It All Falls Apart lands July 22 on Swamp Jam Records. One of our finest writers, Will Hoge returns with Wings On My Shoes on August 26 (Edlo). Courtney Marie Andrews is set to take the next step towards her inevitable stardom. Loose Future his the streets courtesy of Fat Possum on October 7. That same day we can expect the second record from Bonny Light Horseman. The indie folk super-trio will share Rolling Golden Holy on the 37d03d label. Finally, we'll wedge in a mention of the return of Trampled By Turtles. They have announced an October 28 release date for Alpenglow

To enjoy our weekly Spotify ROUTES-cast, just open Spotify and search for "routesandbranches" to access this most recent playlist, as well as many others from past months.  Or click here for a preview:

Sunday, June 12, 2022


featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
June 12, 2022
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

Our best songwriters invest their work with far more than just words and noises that sound pretty alongside one another. For those who care, it's a blood-sweat-and-tears transaction, it's packing a lifetime worth of pleasure and pain into four minutes. When it works exceptionally well, we see our own lives reflected in the work of these songsmiths. 

There's already been some really good writing around SG Goodman's second full-length, Teeth Marks (see Silas House's terrific piece from Bitter Southerner, or Stereogum's song-by-song excavation). Even more of a treasure is the Western Kentucky resident's own piece for No Depression, where she speaks to her process of channeling emotions and psychological trauma into music. 

Goodman's debut arrived during the first uncertain Summer of the pandemic. Old Time Feeling explored Southern myth and meaning, particularly as they define and clash with the identity of a queer farmer's daughter. From the title track: Stick around and work your way through / Be the change that you hope to find. The collection ended the year as our favorite debut, meriting a Top 10 ranking alongside far more established artists like Isbell, Sturgill and her recent touring partner John Moreland. 

That Southern blood continues to flow throughout Teeth Marks, though these new songs deal more with the psyche and with trauma: the marks that love, or lack of love, leaves behind. Where Feeling dwelt snugly within a folk and country pocket, tracks like the title cut expand boldly from that comfort zone, leaning into electric guitar and production touches. "Teeth Marks" floats on a spectral feedback, with Goodman taking stock of an unrequited affection: Well it's just like you to say something smart / Telling me how this situation shouldn't break my heart / But it did

Teeth Marks then sets forth to juxtapose these more internal moments with songs that deploy a fuller, more extroverted sound. The karmic rocker "All My Love Is Coming Back To Me" leads into the acoustic "Heart Swell" and its ghostly call-and-response backing vocal: And the cicada choir / Is my backing band / I join in off key / Country mumble / Sang slow and hard to understand. The former's start-and-stop garage rock allows Goodman to demonstrate a greater confidence in her vocals, simultaneously fragile and fiery, nervy (to borrow Jewly Hight's spot-on descriptor) and movingly human. 

This contrast is most potent in the twin pillars of "If You Were Someone I Loved" and "You Were Someone I Loved", listed separately here but intended to be heard as a piece. Beginning with Goodman's remarkable howl, the song starts as a brawny electric rocker, the narrator turning a blind eye towards a suffering addict. Breaking down into a meandering instrumental passage, the second movement emerges as a mournful acapella holler, the singer's strikingly unadorned voice. Where one passage is delivered from the voice of a person lacking empathy, the second is riddled with a mother's profound compassion and bottomless grief. 

Teeth Marks moves restlessly from one trauma to another, from the loss of an addicted child to the scars left by an unfeeling capitalist system. "Work Until I Die" lands an unanticipated punch to the gut, with its flat punky delivery and its pogoing bassline. Goodman's song of the South is a breakneck journey through birth-school-work-death, whipping up an ersatz dinner prayer in its whirlwind: Bless this food to our bodies / And our bodies to your service / In the company's holy name / Amen

Even in the stylistic back-and-forth of SG Goodman's new sessions, the writer's own compassion and empathy are brilliantly conveyed. In her own piece for No Depression, she acknowledges her near obsessive focus on saying everything that needs to be said in a song. "Patron Saint of the Dollar Store" is a lovely acoustic moment, with Goodman's breathy delivery: Know I found heaven / Lying in a woman's arms. Teeth Marks closes with "Keeper of the Time", restating the record's thesis of how a body remembers, and spinning into Goodman's rockstar outro. 

On "Heart of It", SG Goodman sings: Honey, why would you ever take that trip down south / I let you visit for free / Each time I open my mouth. In her new collection, Goodman succeeds in incorporating her own story and sound into an updated song of the South.

ROUTES-cast JUNE 12, 2022

- Zach Bryan, "Sober Side of Sorry" American Heartbreak  (Belting Bronco, 22)
- Angel Olsen, "All the Flowers" Big Time  (Jagjaguwar, 22)
- American Aquarium, "Things We Lost Along the Way" Chicamacomico  (Losing Side, 22)
- Teddy & the Rough Riders, "Hey Richard" Teddy & the Rough Riders  (Appalachia, Jul 1)
- Rachel Brooke, "True Love Will Find You In the End" single  (Brooke, 22)  D
- Band of Heathens, "Carry Your Love" single  (BoH, 22)  D
- Gabbard Brothers, "Little Mama" Gabbard Brothers  (Karma Chief, Jul 15)  D
- Whiskey Myers, "The Wolf" Tornillo  (Wiggy Thump, Jul 29)
^ SG Goodman, "Patron Saint of the Dollar Store" Teeth Marks  (Verve, 22)
- Joe Purdy, "Hard to Be a Prophet" Desert Outtakes Vol 1: Folk-Slinger  (Mudtown Crier, 22)  D
- Joe Pug, "I Do My Father's Drugs (feat. Courtney Hartman)" Nation of Heat Revisited  (Soundly, Jul 22)
- David Newbould, "Blood On My Hands" Power Up!  (Blackbird, 22)
- Alex Dupree, "The Seer" Thieves  (Keeled Scales, Jul 15)
- Courtney Marie Andrews, "Satellite" Loose Future  (Fat Possum, Oct 7)  D
- Jonah Tolchin, "Aliens" Lava Lamp  (Yep Roc, Jul 15)
- Bonnie Light Horseman, "California" Rolling Golden Holy  (37d03d, Oct 7)  D
- Sadies, "All the Good" Colder Streams  (Yep Roc, Jul 22)
- Cass McCombs, "Unproud Warrior" Heartmind  (Anti, Aug 19)  D
- Nina Nastasia, "This is Love" Riderless Horse  (Temporary Residence, Jul 22)  D
- Jack White, "If I Die Tomorrow" Entering Heaven Alive  (Third Man, Jul 22)
- Adia Victoria, "In the Pines" single  (Atlantic, 22)  D
- Arlo McKinley, "Back Home (feat. Logan Halstead)" This Mess We're In  (Oh Boy, Jul 15)
- Michaela Anne, "Oh To Be That Free Again" Oh To Be That Free  (Yep Roc, 22)
- Andrew Combs, "High & Dry" 3Sirens Presents: With Love Part 1  (3Sirens, Jul 8)  D
- Laura Veirs, "Eucalyptus" Found Light  (Raven Marching Band, Jul 8)
- Logan Halstead, "Kentucky Sky" OurVinyl Sessions EP  (OurVinyl, 22)  D
- Lera Lynn, "I'm Your Kamikaze" Something More Than Love  (Lera Lynn, Jul 15)
- Patty Griffin, "Don't Mind (feat. Robert Plant)" Tape  (PGM, 22)
- Mapache, "Man and Woman" Roscoe's Dream  (Innovative Leisure, 22)
- Nicki Bluhm, "Sweet Surrender" Avondale Drive  (Compass, 22)

To enjoy our weekly Spotify ROUTES-cast, just open Spotify and search for "routesandbranches" to access this most recent playlist, as well as many others from past months.  Or click here for a preview:

Sunday, June 05, 2022

ROUTES-cast JUNE 5, 2022

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
June 5, 2022
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

- Cat Power, "You Got the Silver" single  (Domino, 22)  D
- Vandoliers, "Before the Fall" The Vandoliers  (Amerikinda, Aug 12)  D
- Wilco, "Lifetime to Find" Cruel Country  (dBpm, 22)
- SG Goodman, "If You Were Someone I Loved" Teeth Marks  (Verve, 22)
- Will Stewart, "New World Daydream" Slow Life  (Cornelius Chapel, Aug 5)
- Drive-by Truckers, "Maria's Awful Disclosures" Welcome 2 Club XIII  (ATO, 22)
- Nicki Bluhm, "Feel (feat. Karl Denison)" Avondale Drive  (Compass, 22)
- Brent Cobb, "Wild and Blue" Something Borrowed Something New: Tribute to John Anderson  (Easy Eye, Aug 5)
- Rachel Brooke, "Undecided Love" single  (Brooke, 22)  D
- Chris Dover, "It's a Difficult World" It's a Difficult World  (Mama Hoodoo's, 22)  D
- Hackensaw Boys, "Only on the Brightside" Hackensaw Boys  (Suns Work, Jun 24)
- Nikki Lane, "First High" Denim & Diamonds  (New West, Sep 23)  D
- Shane Smith & the Saints, "Hummingbird" single  (Geronimo West, 22)  D
- Caleb Caudle, "Betty Oshawa" single  (Soundly, 22)  D
^ Abby Hamilton, "Trailer Park Queen" single  (Hamilton, 22)  D
- Wilder Maker, "Letter of Apology" Male Models  (Western Vinyl, Jul 29)  D
- Sunny Sweeney, "A Song Can't Fix Everything (feat. Paul Cauthen)" Married Alone  (Aunt Daddy, Sep 23)  D
- Steve Earle, "Little Bird" Jerry Jeff  (New West, 22)
- Mariel Buckley, "Shooting At the Moon" Everywhere I Used to Be  (Birthday Cake, Aug 12)  D
- Whitehorse, "Summer Wine" single  (Six Shooter, 22)  D
- Field Guides, "Cicadas in the Lemon Trees" Gingko  (Whatever's Clever, Jun 24)
- Damien Jurado, "Whatever Happened to Paul Sand" Reggae Film Star  (Maraqopa, Jun 24)
- Joan Shelley, "Home" The Spur  (No Quarter, Jun 24)
- John Calvin Abney, "Call Me Achilles" The Tourist  (Black Mesa, Aug 5)
- Angel Olsen, "This is How It Works" Big Time  (Jagjaguwar, 22)
- David Newbould, "Peeler Park" Power Up!  (Blackbird, Jun 10)
- Alela Diane, "Howling Wind" single  (Soundly, 22)  D
- Anna Tivel, "Outsiders" Outsiders  (Mama Bird, Aug 19)  D
- Revelators Sound System, "Grieving" Revelators  (37d03d, Jun 17)
- Beth Orton, "Weather Alive" Weather Alive  (Partisan, Sep 23)  D


We're pleased to add some impactful late-Summer and early-Fall releases to A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster. Vandoliers return on August 12 with a self-titled affair, courtesy of their Amerikinda label. Anna Tivel's last few records have appeared near the top of our year-end favorites lists. We expect no less from Outsiders, appearing August 19 on Mama Bird Records. September 23 is setting up as Fall's biggest day for new stuff. Beth Orton returns after six years with Weather Alive on Partisan Records. Nikki Lane's next project is produced by Queens of the Stone Age's Josh Homme. Denim and Diamonds arrives on New West Records. Finally, that same day will see the release of Married Alone, the long-awaited full-length from Sunny Sweeney

To enjoy our weekly Spotify ROUTES-cast, just open Spotify and search for "routesandbranches" to access this most recent playlist, as well as many others from past months.  Or click here for a preview:


featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
June 4, 2022
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust 

I'm sure good things happen in Florida. I believe a lot of KC & the Sunshine Band's songs were born of the state's pastel mythology. Heck, it's where Tom Petty got his start, responsible at least in part for  Lynyrd Skynyrd, Allman Brothers, Gram Parsons. Without the Sunshine State we might never have been told by Gloria Estefan how words get in the way or how the rhythm is gonna get you. The Tampa area served as the launchpad for New Orleans' singer-songwriter Thomas Dollbaum, whose debut Wellswood was just released by the trustworthy Big Legal Mess label. Named after what one website touts as the #55 best neighborhood in Tampa (great schools! lotsa crime!), the record won't likely be used by Florida's tourism board. Dollbaum present his homestate as a place to be escaped: Someday, I will leave the city before it fucks me up

Thomas Dollbaum studied poetry during his stint in academia, but there is no stiff formality in Wellswood. Instead, Dollbaum's lyrics share more in common with the Southern gothic writers like Harry Crews, Larry Brown or Barry Hannah, scribes who found their muse far away from the region's beaches and boardwalks. On the haunting "Break Your Bones", he calls out Nebraska Avenue and Orient Road, his fractured vocal filling the night like Jason Molina: Juliet's cracked up on Nebraska Avenue / And your daddy's out here huffing paint / Oh I want to leave this town. With co-producer and multi-instrumentalist Matt Seferian, they populate the album's trailing moments with brushed acoustic guitar and tentatively glinting piano. "Break Your Bones" inspires rapt attention, a quality that carries throughout the sessions. 

Like Richard Buckner's seminal Devotion + Doubt, this is a collection whose intensity is frequently fostered through silence and space. The opener, "Florida" is initially disorienting, Dollbaum's mumbled meandering vocal underlaid with barely-there acoustic fingerpicking. As the song is revealed, those vocals reach beyond their breaking point, strings pulse and electric guitars growl to life. It's a beautifully damning portrait that speaks to inescapable abuse and disillusion: Come back home honey, when everything falls apart for you. The stark imagery sets a desolate tone for the stories and songs that follow: Go down the street honey / Sell that ass / It's a quick way to make some cash / Josephine don't you cry. Dollbaum's Florida will never love you back. 

The songs of Wellswood aren't simply an anti-travel guide. The seven-minute "Moon" shines its measured light on the wake of a relationship, with the narrator lamenting All I want is a chicken in the yard / And your love for Jesus Christ. Dollbaum's lyrics grant a glimpse  into the lives of the least of these,  real-lived scenarios of folks lost out here in God's country. "God's Country" takes a bluesier rock approach, adding slide guitar and haphazard drums for a portrait of the denizens of a neighborhood where even the trees lean with a grudge

Thomas Dollbaum's drawled, yowled vocals break with passion on some of the more muscular tracks on his debut. Drums beat and guitars slash on "Gold Teeth", and "All is Well" finds the singer offering a high lonesome croon atop jazz-colored keys like a wayward Steely Dan cut: Some people need a woman to hold onto / Some people need that night train wine / I need both dear, because I'm selfish and unkind. Fellow singer-songwriter Kate Teague provides essential backing vocals throughout, adding extra dimension to Wellswood's mix. 

Dollbaum isn't damning these lost souls, but shows a degree of compassion for the people who were his Florida neighbors, family and friends. On the impressionistic "Strange", he counsels Never never never give up / On the things that make you feel less alone. Below a squall of droning guitar, "Work Hard" shows deep, tough heart: All the birds in the sky / You know they don't mean much to me / Unless they mean a lot to you. It's that care, along with the gorgeously ramshackle arrangements, that suggest some redemption between the grooves of Wellswood. As I've mentioned over the years, the only truly depressing music is stuff that's poorly, carelessly created. This first collection of songs introduces a writer who is genuinely invested in his craft, committed to telling a true story. Followers of Water Liars, Magnolia Electric Co or John Murry will understand. Readers of Daniel Woodrell or William Gay will welcome a kindred soul. 

Monday, May 30, 2022


featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
May 30, 2022
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

This weekend I was readying my half-year favorites list, given the fact that we were facing the onset of June. This exercise was delayed when an associate mentioned that we would not meet our halfway point until the end of June. In light of that revelation, we'll turn our collective attention to our ten favorite songs for the month just passed. 

Not an easy exercise, given the fact that May has unloaded such a wealth of records to consider. Heck, we're not even done picking thru the wreckage left by May 20th's record-setting release storm. Nevertheless, we foolishly persist: 


1. Laney Jones, "Can't Stop the Rain" Stories Up High  (Tone Tree, May 20)
2. Wilco, "Tired of Taking it Out on You" Cruel Country  (dBpm, May 27)
3. 49 Winchester, "Second Chance" Fortune Favors the Bold  (New West, May 13)
4. Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, "I Just Came Home to Count the Memories" Something Borrowed Something New: Tribute to John Anderson  (Easy Eye, Aug 5)
5. Drive-by Truckers, "Every Single Storied Flameout" Welcome 2 Club XIII  (ATO, Jun 3)
6. Amanda Shires, "Hawk For the Dove" Take it Like a Man  (ATO, Jul 29)
7. Caleb Caudle, "Little Reminders" single  (Soundly, 22)
8. Willi Carlisle, "Life on the Fence" Peculiar, Missouri  (Free Dirt, Jul 15)
9. Wynonna & Waxahatchee, "Other Side" single  (Anti, May 24)
10. Joan Shelley, "Amberlit Morning (feat. Bill Callahan)" The Spur  (No Quarter, Jun 24)


Even as we assess the damage left in the wake of May, we continue to add stuff to A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster, our lovingly tended release calendar. The last few days included the second solo album by former Uncle Lucius frontman Kevin Galloway. Secondhand Starlight will arrive June 22 on Nine Mile Records. Begun as a lark in 2008, the collaboration between M Ward and Zooey Deschanel has lasted longer than expected. Expect the next She & Him project on July 22, with Melt Away: A Tribute to Brian Wilson (Fantasy). Also in 2008, Joe Pug released a revelatory Nation of Heat EP. Pug revisits those earliest songs on Nation of Heat Revisited, re-recording them in light of all he has learned in the ensuing years (Nation Head, July 22). Possibly distracted by her work with Jason Isbell's 400 Unit and the Highwomen, it's been four years since Amanda Shires' last non-holiday solo LP. That will change with the release of Take It Like a Man (ATO, July 29). Finally, we're thrilled to announce the next collection by one of our favorite songwriters. Andrew Combs has planned an August 19 release for Sundays (Tone Tree).