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Monday, March 18, 2019

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
March 17, 2019
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

The American Dream is dead.  Long live the American Dream!  M Lockwood Porter sang on 2016's "American Dream Denied":  Left without a future, born without a past / I was always told my birthright was an ever half-full glass.  It's not a new sentiment, not something we haven't heard in the protest music of the past couple generations.  The myth of the American Middle Class that was sold to us beginning in the 1950s had forgone its promise, abandoning a generation of hardworking people to wonder when it would be their turn.

On his 4th record, Communion in the Ashes (Black Mesa, Mar 29), Porter begins from that vantage, the lost and forgotten atop the rubble of their possessions and their debts, digging through their hopes and anxieties.  The album opens with the title track, a sharp jolt of tuneful electric punk: When the bridges are all burned / Let's congregate the masses / Let's hold a new communion in the ashes.  Much of his new collection was generated while Porter was deciding to abandon his longtime Bay Area home to return to his native Oklahoma.  The cut's barbed goodbye to what had become a playground for the rich also serves as a cri de couer for our country as a whole.

On that title song, Porter bemoans we have no common hymns, then sets out to fill that void.  What results is a natural extension of the vision he began with 2014's quarter-life crisis, 27, and turned outward in 2016's How to Dream AgainCommunion concedes that "The Dream is Dead" on the CD's first single, but the response for which Porter calls is not to bemoan its loss or revive it.  Instead, he asks that we see our unshackled state as liberating:  Some have turned to hate and numbness / But I'll be marching down Columbus / Trying to build a new world with my friends.  Through chiming guitars and pounded keys, Porter and his band suggest we chart a new course.

Communion in the Ashes is ultimately a hopeful record, a project created by Porter and his longtime touring band, set to tape live in studio and played with an infectious spirit.  The realities which threatened to crush fellow Oklahoman Ryan Culwell on 2018's Last American only strengthen the resolution of Porter's "dystopian gospel band".  And while there's an element of gospel fervor to tunes like "Get Back to the Wild", the prevailing wildness owes more to punk.  Steady piano ushers in clouds of guitar fuzz on a song that's as wordy and prophetic as Lee Bains III: I know we're all born with flames inside the world wants to blow out, declares Porter, I never thought it'd take so many years to get back to the wild.  In this Eden, the constraints of civilization are stripped away, leaving us to decide how to proceed.

Even the quietest moments on Porter's new songs show signs of unraveling.  The positivity of the acoustic "Blessed to Be Alive" is shadowed by a recurring feedback and static.  The sonorous 30-second chord that finishes "I Will Do No More a'Praying" begins to sound a bit like a warning siren.  The cut's solemn piano and rattling snare belie a more revolutionary heart with hopes of a better worldKeep planning for the day when we can spread out all the wealth / By and by, by and by ... Porter's deceptive calm amidst the storm recalls Matthew Ryan's "punk and noisy folk with a gigantic heart".

M Lockwood Porter has made a protest record with a different sort of heart.  His youthful and upbeat delivery make for an infectious call to arms.  Pieces like "Waiting For a Sign" and "This Fear Won't Control Me" can be inspiring, guitar-driven fuel to face the fire burning around us.  But where others might ask "where's mine?" Porter challenges listeners to look to "what's next?"  Our redemption song can topple walls, he promises, But first we must compose it.

- Strand of Oaks, "Ruby" Eraserland  (Dead Oceans, Mar 22)  D
- Lydia Loveless, "Chris Isaak" Somewhere Else  (Bloodshot, 14)
- Rod Melancon, "Westgate" Pinkville  (Blue Elan, Apr 5)
- Quaker City Night Hawks, "Fox in the Henhouse" QCNH  (Lightning Rod, 19)
- Brad Armstrong, "Carry Your Head High" I Got No Place Remembers My Name  (Cornelius Chapel, Apr 16)
- Jenny Lewis, "Wasted Youth" On the Line  (Warner, Mar 22)
- Willie Farmer, "Fist Full of Dollars" Man From the Hill  (Big Legal Mess, 19)
- Logan Ledger, "Starlight" single  (Rounder, 19)  D
- Alabama Shakes, "Always Alright" single  (ATO, 11)
^ M Lockwood Porter, "Get Back to the Wild" Communion in the Ashes  (Black Mesa, Mar 29)
- Randy Rogers Band, "Comal County Line" Hellbent  (Tommy Jackson, Apr 26)
- Dylan LeBlanc, "Renegade" Renegade  (ATO, Jun 7)  D
- Robyn Ludwick, "Out of These Blues" Out of These Blues  (Ludwick, 11)
- Daniel Norgren, "Let Love Run the Game" Wooh Dang  (Superpuma, Apr 19)  D
- Over the Rhine, "Betting On the Muse" Love & Revelation  (Great Speckled Dog, 19)
- Todd Snider, "Ghost of Johnny Cash" Cash Cabin Sessions Vol. 3  (Aimless, 19)
- Molly Tuttle, "Messed With My Mind" When You're Ready  (Compass, Apr 5)
- Claire Anne Taylor, "Pick Your Bones" All the Words  (CAT, 19)
- Matt Andersen, "Free Man" Halfway Home by Morning  (True North, Mar 22)
- Ian Noe, "Irene (Ravin' Bomb)" Between the Country  (National Treasury, May 31)  D
- Lucero, "'84 300zx (with T-Tops)" single  (Liberty & Lament, 19)  D
- Shovels & Rope, "Carry Me Home" By Blood  (Dualtone, Apr 12)
- Hayes Carll, "American Dream" What It Is  (Dualtone, 19)
- Bonnie Bishop, "Black Mercedes Benz" House Sessions Vol. 1  (Plan BB, 19)
- Durand Jones & Indications, "Circles" American Love Call  (Dead Oceans, 19)
- Yola, "Love is Light" Walk Through Fire  (Easy Eye, 19)
- Anna Tivel, "Worthless" The Question  (Fluff & Gravy, Apr 19)
- Bohannons, "Girl in Chicago" Bloodroot  (Cornelius Chapel, Apr 5)
- BJ Barham, "Unfortunate Kind" Rockingham  (Barham, 16)
- Fire Mountain, "Be Your Eyes" All Dies Down  (This is American Music, 14)

It's quite the tame release date, heralding just a couple records for our kind of music.  Karin Bergquist and Linford Detweiler continue to make beautiful music together under the Over the Rhine moniker.  Their Love & Revelation offers more thoughtful, exquisite folk-rock.  Cash Cabin Sessions Vol. 3 boasts more of Todd Snider's easy-going, topical songwriting.  Next Friday, stay tuned for another auto-tuned production from Lambchop, as well as some Canadian blues from Matt Andersen.  There's a promising singer-songwriter CD from Lucy Rose, and a couple rock-oriented collections from Jenny Lewis and Strand of Oaks.  For a more detailed report of what's come out and what's coming out, click on A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster to your right.  New stuff  was added to the calendar this week from Dylan LeBlanc & the Pollies, Sean Whiting, Eric Bolander and more.  Hey, it's your weekly ROUTES-cast:

Sunday, March 10, 2019

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
March 10, 2019
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

Kasey Chambers.  Midnight Oil.  Hunters & Collectors.  Crowded House.  It's nearly all I know about Australia.  That, and kangaroos.  I played "Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport" on the zither at a First Grade concert.  But the internet is wide.  It's wide, wise and generous.  After all, it brought me to Claire Anne Taylor.

From Tasmania, Claire Anne Taylor released All the Words, her debut full-length in January.  Which officially makes me late to her party, but there's a lot of water between Colorado and the Tarkine Rainforest, so ...  If you didn't know otherwise, after hearing Taylor's swampy and soulful songs you might triangulate her sound to somewhere closer to Memphis or Louisiana or maybe Kentucky (Kentucky's so hot these days).  Then you read from her bio:  During her childhood, the Taylor barn was home to a family of Tasmanian Devils, and some say that Taylor developed her unique, raspy singing style from nights spent listening to the devils growling beneath the floorboards.

Taylor cites artists like Van Morrison and Tom Waits as influences, both iconoclasts who navigated by their own unique musical compass.  It could be said that her seemingly idyllic upbringing serves as her foremost inspiration, from her home birth into a large family to padding barefoot through the surrounding forest and hosting visiting musicians.  The original songs on All the Words sound more familiar than exotic, trading in elements of soul, gospel and folk.  Recorded in a wooden barn, backed by a band of fellow Tasmanians, there is a remarkable warmth to the sessions, with Taylor's honeyed rasp pulling it all together.

Claire Anne Taylor's voice should be declared a state treasure, a once-in-a-lifetime instrument capable of great things.  With its organs, horns and skittering drums, "Boogie River" provides the solid bed atop which she works her wonders.  Like Allison Moorer or her sister Shelby Lynne, Taylor wields such a natural, unpolished talent in telling the story of a fire-eyed gypsy with ferns in her hair.  She allows the gospel colors to unspool on the slow-burning "In Your Final Hours", a lovely piece that is both mournful and transcendent.  Woven with little more than a sturdy electric strum and a whispering piano, a backing chorus compliments Taylor's recitation.

A wide-ranging treasure, the CD roams across genres, tempos and emotions.  "Pick Your Bones" is an angry bar band strut about a gritty woman who stands her ground when faced with disrespect at a bar:  She stood over him, looking down / Saying who's the big man now.  With an acoustic strum with touches of fiddle, "The Fire" recalls the family hearth, the heart of our home.  My favorite track, "Drunken Choir", displays the artist at her soulful best, embracing the bluesy grace of Susan Tedeschi and the storytelling strength of Brandi Carlile.  She recalls the sleepy aftermath of another gathering of musical friends:  The hopeless, the unholy, the lost and lonely fool / We found comfort in the sound of our voices ...  

All the Words is never unnecessarily polished, sounding pretty much like a collection recorded amidst the welcoming warmth and comfort of a barn.  Taylor's lyrics favor the personal and the natural, as though she were simply gazing out a window and recording her reflections and her memories.  It's homey but impressive, generating more of a buzz than you might expect from a debut record.  But Claire Anne Taylor is an unpolished gem, the sort of discovery made possible by the 'net.  As her tour carries her further from her beloved home, as her voice is allowed to carry beyond the forest that fostered it, as music lovers trip across her bewitching work, one hopes her spark might just catch fire.  Until then, Taylor seems content to always be returning home to Van Diemen's Land, Where the devils raised me.

- Shovels & Rope, "Mississippi Nuthin'" By Blood  (Dualtone, Apr 12)
^ Claire Anne Taylor, "Drunken Choir" All the Words  (CAT, 19)  D
-  Adam Klein, "Lead Guitar" Low Flyin' Planes  (Broken Hill, 19)
- Caroline Spence, "Who's Gonna Make My Mistakes" Mint Condition  (Rounder, 19)
- Jon Dee Graham, "Big Sweet Life" Summerland  (New West, 99)
- Jason Ringenberg, "Many Happy Hangovers" Stand Tall  (Ringenberg, 19)
- Caleb Elliott, "Old Souls" Forever to Fade  (Single Lock, 19)
- David Huckfelt, "King Whirl" Stranger Angels  (Huckfelt, 19)
- Hiss Golden Messenger, "Everybody Needs Somebody" single  (Merge, 19)  D
- Lucy Rose, "Treat Me Like a Woman" No Words Left  (Arts & Crafts, Mar 22)
- Townes Van Zandt, "Sky Blue" Sky Blue  (TVZ, 19)
- Howe Gelb, "Open Road" Gathered  (Fire, 19)
- Gougers, "Riding in a Lincoln Continental With Sylvia Plath" Long Day for the Weathervane  (Gougers, 07)
- Long Ryders, "The Sound" Psychedelic Country Soul  (Omnivore, 19)
- Meat Puppets, "On" Dusty Notes  (Megaforce, 19)
- Budos Band, "Arcane Rambler" V  (Daptone, Apr 12)
- Seth Walker, "Hard Road" Are You Open  (Royal Potato Family, 19)
- Black Keys, "Lo/Hi" single  (Nonesuch, 19)  D
- Black Pumas, "Fire" single  (ATO, 19)  D
- Amy McCarley, "Never Can Tell" MECO  (Meco, 19)
- Rod Melancon, "Rehabilitation" Pinkville  (Blue Elan, Apr 5)
- Fernando Viciconte, "World From the Inside" True Instigator  (Domingo, 11)
- Ryan Bingham, "Hot House" American Love Song  (Axster Bingham, 19)
- Felice Brothers, "Poor Blind Birds" Undress (Yep Roc, May 3)
- Son Volt, "The Reason" Union  (Transmit Sound, Mar 29)
- Tyler Ramsey, "Firewood" For the Morning  (Fantasy, Apr 5)
- Patty Griffin, "Where I Come From" Patty Griffin  (PGM, 19)
- Emily Scott Robinson, "Ghost in Every Town" Traveling Mercies  (Tone Tree, 19)
- Cat Power, "Cross Bones Style" Moon Pix  (Matador, 98)
- Walt Wilkins & Mystiqueros, "Trains I Missed" Diamonds in the Sun  (Palo Duro, 07)

If there were stores that carried the stuff, new records would appear this week from Patty Griffin and Caleb Elliott (who we reviewed what seems long ago).  It's a great week for posthumous releases, bringing us projects from beyond the grave from Townes Van Zandt and Leo Bud Welch.  Meat Puppets were dead for awhile, but have come back to life with a fun album.  And my ceaseless fascination with Howe Gelb continues, with the release of Gathered.

Goings on at SXSW have curtailed new releases for a bit, though this week we're checking the digital mailbox for deliveries from Over the Rhine.  We'll give Todd Snider another chance, and we've got something from the duo of David Mayfield and Abby Luri, under the moniker of the Cave Twins.

This week's ROUTES-cast features debuts on behalf of both the Black Keys and Black Pumas.  We feature another single from Hiss Golden Messenger, as well as new sounds from forthcoming projects from Felice Brothers, Caroline Spence and Son Volt. 

Monday, March 04, 2019

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
March 3, 2019
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

As we march heedlessly into the month of March, let's not neglect to express our sincere gratitude for the records which shepherded us through the dark of February.  We call it:

Blank Range, In Unison  (Sturdy Girl, Feb 1)
Ryan Bingham, American Love Song  (Axster Bingham, Feb 15)
Charles Wesley Godwin, Seneca  (CWG, Feb 15)
Hayes Carll, What it Is  (Dualtone, Feb 15)
Yola, Walk Through Fire  (Easy Eye, Feb 22)
Vandoliers, Forever  (Bloodshot, Feb 22)

In order of appearance, of course.

The Pines have been making spirit-haunted folk music for more than fifteen years.  Awash in ambiance but deeply rooted in the vernacular of acoustic music, it's a sound that only makes sense as a reflection of their Great Plains home.  Following a handful of records alongside brothers Benson and Alex Ramsey, David Huckfelt has released his first solo CD, Stranger Angels.

Huckfelt's new collection is a product of its environment as well, taking shape in the wake of the artist's retreat to Isle Royale on Lake Superior, our country's most remote national park.  The songs don't necessarily dwell on the writer's retreat into that sacred space, though the natural world plays a crucial role throughout.  Instead, like a prophet that disappears to wander the wilderness, Huckfelt has re-emerged with a message and a warning.

Stranger Angels is rich with poetry, a collection that's haunted by the world in a manner that's remote yet completely immersed in the everyday.  Human and animal and mechanical voices interrupt and compliment Huckfelt's work, making the world another instrument and a catalyst in the world falling apart and possibly coming back together.  A slowing train introduces "As Below So Above", a stomp 'n slam blues rocker in the tradition of Ray Wylie Hubbard.  There is no death, just a change of worlds, he sings.  Huckfelt has called his new work a soundtrack to the thin place between worlds.  The frontier between here and there is crossed and criss-crossed throughout the record.

I've frequently regarded the blues as an apt vehicle for this kind of prophetic poetry.  It's a presence that's woven across these songs, from the dark and shattered march of "Lost 40 (Some Dark Hollow)" to the footsteps that walk through "False True Lover Blues".  "Lost 40" incorporates the found sound of an ax striking a piano:  Mercy and grace ... the haunted air is unlaced / Give me a moment of silence ... after a season of violence.

Huckfelt is a skilled enough writer that he never resorts to specifics when delivering a message about the state of our nation.  He's cited poets of the natural world like Gary Snyder and Rilke as influences, especially admiring their "economy of words".  It's a language that overflows with meaning and shines with possibility even as he dwells on the darker forces at play.  The outstanding title cut sets the stage:  Wild mustangs starve in the hills outside Las Vegas / And the west is burning like a lake of fire / When the desert comes to swallow up our prairies / You'll wish you had not dared called god a liar.

The sounds of Stranger Angels won't be entirely unfamiliar to fans of David Huckfelt's work with the Pines. It's musically atmospheric while remaining anchored in the familiar expressions of folk music.  "King Whirl" features spiraling banjo and a grounding bass, shot through with shocks of electric guitar.  Huckfelt is surrounded in studio by a talented cohort of friends, from Phil Cook to Dave Simonett, from Erik Koskinen to the transcendent vocals of Sylvan Esso's Amanda Meath.  His own vocals recall MC Taylor or Simone Felice, soulful and intimate especially as paired with Meath on tracks like "Still and Still Moving".  With the help of producers Andrew Broder and JT Bates, Huckfelt has created a sonic path that bridges those thin places, a document that could only come from a person who has learned from solitude, then grown from collaboration.

- Sadies, "Northumberland West" Favourite Colours  (Yep Roc, 04)
- Vandoliers, "Bottom Dollar Boy" Forever  (Bloodshot, 19)
- Hayes Carll, "Things You Don't Wanna Know" What It Is  (Dualtone, 19)
- Bonnie Bishop, "Brent Rollins" House Sessions Vol. 1  (Plan BB, 19)  D
- New Multitudes, "Worlds On Fire" New Multitudes  (Rounder, 12)
- Seth Walker, "Inside" Are You Open  (Royal Potato Family, 19)  D
- Lonesome Shack, "Too Bad" Desert Dreams  (Alive Naturalsound, 19)
- Adia Victoria, "Devil is a Lie" Silences  (Atlantic, 19)
- Quaker City Night Hawks, "Elijah Ramsey" QCNH  (Lightning Rod, 19)
- Randy Rogers Band, "Crazy People" Hellbent  (Rounder, Apr 26)  D
- Steve Earle, "Randall Knife" Guy  (New West, Mar 29)
- Adam Klein, "Crossin' Texas" Low Flyin' Planes  (Broken Hill, 19)  D
- Pines, "Rise Up and Be Lonely" Dark So Gold  (Red House, 12)
- Cactus Blossoms, "Desperado" Easy Way  (Walkie Talkie, 19)
- Rosie Flores, "If There Was a Way" Simple Case of the Blues  (Flores, 19)
- Durand Jones & the Indications, "Morning in America" American Love Call  (Dead Oceans, 19)
- Brad Armstrong, "Brother Ford" I Got No Place Remembers Me  (Cornelius Chapel, Apr 19)  D
^ David Huckfelt, "As Below So Above" Stranger Angels  (Huckfelt, 19)
- Crooked Fingers, "New Drink For the Old Drunk" Crooked Fingers  (Merge, 00)
- Hiss Golden Messenger, "Watching the Wires" single  (Merge, 19)  D
- Tallest Man on Earth, "Running Styles of New York" I Love You It's a Fever Dream  (Rivers/Birds, Apr 19)  D
- Kevin Morby, "No Halo" Oh My God  (Dead Oceans, Apr 26)  D
- Nick Lowe, "Love Starvation" Love Starvation EP  (Yep Roc, Jun 21)  D
- Our Native Daughters, "Blood and Bones" Songs of Our Native Daughters  (Smithsonian, 19)
- Damien Jurado, "Lincoln" In the Shape of a Storm  (Mama Bird, Apr 12)
- Two Gallants, "Ribbons 'Round My Tongue" Two Gallants  (Saddle Creek, 07)
- Willie Farmer, "I Am the Lightning" Man From the Hill  (Big Legal Mess, 19)  D
- Viking Moses, "Kid For the Cattle" Cruel Child  (Epifo, Apr 5)  D
- Matt Andersen, "Something to Lose (feat. Amy Helm)" Halfway Home by Morning  (True North, Mar 22)
- Deyarmond Edison, "Love Long Gone" Deyarmond Edison  (Deyarmond Edison, 06)

This first week of March brings us new stuff from Quaker City Night Hawks and Adam Klein.  Durand Jones and Lonesome Shack bring the soul and the blues (respectively), and Cactus Blossoms present the long-awaited follow-up to their successful debut record.  The rest of the month will have to work pretty hard to match February's generous offerings.  At this point, we're especially looking forward to Patty Griffin's first CD of originals in several years.  Over the Rhine brings us Love and Revelation on March 15, and March 29 will serve as the launch day for both Steve Earle and Son Volt.  M Lockwood Porter is also firmly on our radar with the late month release of Communion in the Ashes.

And this week we added stuff to the release calendar by Nick Lowe & Los Straitjackets and a live set from Anderson East.  We added what seems to be a concept record from Kevin Morby, as well as something from Tallest Man on Earth, who has been releasing self-standing singles since his last full-length.  Please pay a visit to A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster via the link to your right. 

Monday, February 25, 2019

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
February 24, 2019
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

It's true.  Almost anything that was ever on the 'net is still there.  You can still find videos of a sweaty young Joshua Fleming fronting a Fort Worth punk trio called The Phuss, a guy who is obviously performing from his heart and leaving it all on stage.  Seven years of spit and anger and abuse took its toll, and it was time to try something new.

Inspired after catching a few episodes of Marty Stuart's RFD-TV show, Fleming set out to try his hand at a couple country songs.  With fellow Dallas artist John Pedigo (the O's), he worked his first demos until he thought he had something, then gathered six veterans from area bands to record 2015's Ameri-kinda beneath the Vandoliers flag.  Early efforts like "Blaze of Glory" and "Wild Flower" caught our attention, and Joshua Fleming's country band fast became an R&B favorite.  True to the album's name, it wasn't exactly country, though you might see it from there.

Forward not even a year to a second project with Pedigo and the Vandoliers, 2017's The Native.  Behind the strength of songs like "Rolling Out" and "Juke Joint Lover", the sophomore CD garnered praise from more established media.  What's more, heavy touring earned the band a tighter sound that more closely reflected the music of the Vandoliers' Texas home.  Along with the careening spirit of punk, Fleming juxtaposed Tejano-inspired fiddle and mariachi trumpet.  Drums pound and Fleming's voice was is terrifically frayed, but "Bluebonnet Highway" sounds like a red-white-and-blue, rocking country tune.

After two releases with Dallas-based State Farm Records, the Vandoliers have emigrated to Bloodshot for their third project, Forever.  Pedigo has ceded the producer's chair to Adam Hill, who has served previously with Low Cut Connie and Deer Tick.  Those trademark sonics remain, though Forever is largely the story of Joshua Fleming's evolution as an artist and writer.  As the Vandoliers' reputation spread, the band was taken on the road and under the wing of Rhett Miller and Old 97s.  Fleming tells how he shared his new songs with the veteran writer, who responded with generous feedback, even receiving cowriting credits on "Fallen Again".

Vandoliers share a hard-driving, fast-forward appeal with those Texas music legends, even as they've charted their own proper course.  "Ring of Fire" horns and fiddle challenge charging drums for the upper hand on "Troublemaker", a story of the artist as a young badass with a tattooed heart and bloodshot eyes.  The tune tumbles recklessly, irresistibly forward, a meeting of Josh Fleming's alt past and country present.  It's the sound of gasoline and a Zippo lighter, heard also on "Sixteen Years".  Like much of Forever, it's a story rooted in the writer's own story.

With its piano accents and fist pumping chorus, there is an anthemic element to "Miles and Miles", a touring performer's ode to wanderlust. There is still plenty of grit on songs like "Fallen Again",  though these are also more complete songs than we might've come to expect from the Vandoliers.  Come for the heavily strummed acoustic; stay for the unexpected Spanish guitar.  The night of debauchery is nothing new, it's the morning reflection that speaks to a newfound maturity:  I have been reckless, careless and selfish / Foolish in the ways of love / I woke up downtown, concrete face down / Last night I fucked it all up.

One can't say enough about that voice of his, a masterfully abrasive instrument that can only be likened to John J McCauley of Deer Tick or to the Yawpers' Nate Cook, a whiskey torn voice, holding on by a strand, to quote Fleming himself.  With its wider array of sounds, Forever allows him to showcase his gift.  "Tumbleweed" is nearly tender, its melodicism enhanced with some quality harmonies from Cory Graves.  And "Cigarettes in the Rain" sounds like little else the band has recorded.

Today you can find videos online of a sweaty Fleming channeling that same early punk energy in service of these new songs.  More than five years removed from his Phuss days, he's more then fulfilled that promise to try his hand at a few country songs.  On Forever, Joshua Fleming is still having a good time, he's simply becoming a bonafide writer in the process.

- Budos Band, "Old Engine Oil" Budos Band V  (Daptone, Apr 12)  D
- Yola, "It Ain't Easier" Walk Through Fire  (Easy Eye, 19)
- Gurf Morlix, "My Heart Keeps Poundin'" Impossible Blue  (Gurf, 19)
- Lonesome Shack, "New Dream" Desert Dreams  (Alive Naturalsound, Mar 1)
- Amy McCarley, "Farewell Paradise" MECO  (MECO, 19)
- Long Ryders, "All Aboard" Psychedelic Country Soul  (Omnivore, 19)
- Justin Townes Earle, "Ain't Got No Money" Patron Saint of Lost Causes  (New West, May 24)  D
- Molly Tuttle, "Million Miles" When You're Ready  (Compass, Apr 5)
- David Huckfelt, "False True Love Blues" Stranger Angels  (Huckfelt, 19)
- Lee Bains III & Glory Fires, "Righteous Ragged Songs" There is a Bomb in Gilead  (Alive Naturalsound, 12)
- Blank Range, "Trick of Light" In Unison  (Sturdy Girls, 19)
- Adia Victoria, "Pacolet Road" Silences  (Atlantic, 19)
- Caleb Elliott, "Don't Go Losing Your Head" Forever to Fade  (Single Lock, 19)
- Wilco, "How to Fight Loneliness" Summerteeth  (Nonesuch, 99)
- Durand Jones & the Indications, "Long Way Home" American Love Call  (Dead Oceans, Mar 1)
^ Vandoliers, "Sixteen Years" Forever  (Bloodshot, 19)
- Deer Tick, "White City" Mayonnaise  (Partisan, 19)
- Susto, "Last Century" Ever Since I Lost My Mind  (Rounder, 19)
- Our Native Daughters, "I Knew I Could Fly" Songs of Our Native Daughters  (Smithsonian, 19)
- Eli Paperboy Reed, "99 Cent Dreams" 99 Cent Dreams  (Yep Roc, Apr 12)  D
- Jimbo Mathus, "Sunken Road" Incinerator  (Big Legal Mess, Apr 5)  D
- Cowboy Junkies, "Sun Comes Up It's Tuesday Morning" Caution Horses  (BMG, 90)
- Murray A Lightburn, "Centre of My Universe" Hear Me Out  (Dangerbird, 19)
- Bohannons, "Refills" Bloodroot  (Cornelius Chapel, Apr 5)
- Matthew Logan Vasquez, "Character Assassination" Light'n Up  (Dine Alone, 19)
- Old 97s, "Victoria" Wreck Your Life  (Bloodshot, 95)
- Matt Andersen, "Quarter On the Ground" Halfway Home By Morning  (True North, Mar 22)  D
- Patty Griffin, "Hourglass" Patty Griffin  (PGM, Mar 8)
- Charles Wesley Godwin, "Seneca Creek" Seneca  (CWG, 19)
- Emily Scott Robinson, "The Dress" Traveling Mercies  (Tone Tree, 19)

Real busy week.  One which featured my laptop, home to all my music and files and life and such, going into A Big Sleep. Thanks to my generous son, I'm pretty much back in business, with his laptop with buttons in different places and a smaller keyboard and still no files.  Also, there's a touch screen that means I might delete everything next time I go to adjust the screen.

February 22 welcomed the second full-length record from hybrid Southern blueswoman Adia Victoria, Silences.  Watchers of our playlists will remember that we've been grasping at pieces of Yola's debut since the first of December.  Now, it's all yours.  And we've been enjoying the music of Matthew Logan Vasquez since 2007's Ode to Sunshine.  Vasquez has been focusing on evolving his solo sounds, with his third full length hitting shelves this week.

Come March 1, we'll be looking out for new stuff from Quaker City Night Hawks.  We're looking forward to Durand Jones & the Indications' first album for the Dead Oceans label.  And we'll hear completed sets from Cactus Blossoms, Lonesome Shack and Adam Klein.

Sunday, February 17, 2019

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
February 17, 2019
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

Amy McCarley, by Alysse Gafkjen

Here at R&B, our favorite new releases arrive with the air of un-expectation.  I'd wager that nobody who lands at this site on purpose will be coming across the fine new records from Hayes Carll or Ryan Bingham without previous knowledge of those artists.  That's why I'm increasingly committed to dedicating our review space to stuff that may be new to us.  Instead of reminding you why you might want to invest in some of these better known performers, we'll instead shine some light on Amy McCarley's MECO f'rinstance.

MECO marks the Alabama songwriter's third project, and her first since stepping aside from what had been her day job as a NASA contractor.  The CD's title means "Main Engine Cut Off", a reference that celebrates Amy McCarley's independence as she enters into a new stage of her music career (though I promise to be the only reviewer to abstain from peppering my comments with jet propulsion references, such as McCarley launches her career into the stratosphere).

Fact is, McCarley's new collection is not a literal solo effort.  MECO celebrates the collaboration of a small but immensely capable team, led by co-producers Kenny Vaughan and George Bradfute, augmented by multi-instrumentalists like Chris Scruggs, Marty Stuart and Harry Stinson.  Every song bears McCarley's own stamp as a writer, or as a co-writer with Nashville treasure Pat Alger.

Amy McCarley's rich and throaty delivery recalls Amy Rigby or Amelia White, an instrument as comfortable in the roots as the rock arena.  Those moments are equally divided, with a touch of country clinging to MECO's blues and rock numbers, and a rock edge abiding throughout.  McCarley's remarkably capable band assures that it all holds together seamlessly.

Kenny Vaughan's electric guitars can blaze, purr or twang depending on the mood.  "Everything Changed" begins with just McCarley and her acoustic, swelling into a roar.  Vaughan's guitars range from a growl to a chime as the song soars to a climax, never losing the grit and the garage spirit that propel it into such a fury.  "A Clue" rambles along with the album's most melodic vibe:  I got a day job / I got a night one too ... I got everything a girl can want on my list of things to do.  Like Chrissie Hynde, there's a raw appeal to McCarley's voice, never perfect but always human.

"Clarksdale Blues" spins a bluesy tale atop a lazy slide guitar line.  That same lowdown groove also carries the aching, gospel flavored "High Wire":  I'm up on the high wire / Steady and tight / Black velvet night sky / White twinkling lights.  McCarley is a persistently genuine narrator, her voice lending the eclectic sessions a consistent believability.

The CD's country moments showcase McCarley and her band deep in their element, balancing grace and gravel.  There is a 'grassy abandon to "Never Can Tell", featuring Marty Stuart's mandolin.  "Happy" digs deeper in service of a more personal tale:  Did you every find happy / Can you tell me what it was ... For a while I thought you'd found it with us.  For her country numbers, McCarley comes across with the gravity of Mary Gauthier.  MECO closes with a honky-tonk offering in "Farewell Paradise".  Pedal steel couples with Vaughan's electric guitars for a classic country dialog.

My digital desk plays host to such a wide range of music every week, most of which will never land on an R&B playlist.  Artists who aren't yet on my radar need to make a case for themselves, or risk being relegated to the "alright" or the "pretty good" bucket.  MECO dwelt on the edge of my attention for a couple weeks before I committed to a full listen, lured primarily by the famous names that graced the record's liner notes.  I was won over by the interplay between Kenny Vaughan's strings and Amy McCarley's original voice.  As a writer and singer, McCarley's new collection lifts her above the fray.  Every reasonably competent roots programmer is giving airtime to those other artists.  Amy McCarley is what gives Routes & Branches our edge.

- Leo Bud Welch, "Don't Let the Devil Ride" Angels in Heaven Done Sign My Name  (Easy Eye, Mar 8)
- Jimbo Mathus, "Skateland Baby" Knockdown South  (Knockdown South, 05)
- Leyla McCalla, "Ain't No Use" Capitalist Blues  (McCalla, 19)
^ Amy McCarley, "A Clue" MECO  (MECO, 19)  D
- Gillian Welch & David Rawlings, "When a Cowboy Trades His Spurs for Wings"  single  (Acony, 19)  D
- Ryan Bingham, "Got Damn Blues" American Love Song  (Axster Bingham, 19)
- Will Kimbrough, "Hey Trouble" I Like It Down Here  (Daphne, Apr 19)  D
- Lonesome Shack, "Too Bad" Desert Dreams  (Alive Naturalsound, Mar 1)
- Emily Scott Robinson, "Borrowed Rooms and Old Wood Floors" Traveling Mercies  (Tone Tree, Feb 22)  D
- JS Ondara, "Days of Insanity" Tales of America  (Verve, 19)
- Jason Ringenberg, "John Muir Stood Here" Stand Tall  (Ringenberg, 19)
- Caroline Spence, "Sit Here and Love Me" Mint Condition  (Rounder, May 3)
- Damien Jurado, "South" In the Shape of a Storm  (Mama Bird, Apr 12)  D
- I Can Lick Any SOB in the House, "Walk Across Texas" Creepy Little Noises  (In Music We Trust, 02)
- Steve Gunn, "New Familiar" Unseen in Between  (Matador, 19)
- Yawpers, "Child of Mercy" Human Question  (Bloodshot, Apr 19)  D
- Bohannons, "Girl in Chicago" Bloodroot  (Cornelius Chapel, Apr 5)  D
- T Model Ford, "Morning Gown" Root Damage  (Sympathy for the Record Industry, 11)
- Son Volt, "The 99" Union  (Transmit Sound, Mar 29)
- Charles Wesley Godwin, "(Windmill) Keep on Turning" Seneca  (CWG, 19)
- Lucy Rose, "Solo(w)" No Words Left  (Arts & Crafts, Mar 22)  D
- AA Bondy, "Images of Love" Enderness  (Fat Possum, May 10)  D
- Tyler Ramsey, "Dream of Home" For the Morning  (Fantasy, Apr 5)  D
- Jenny Lewis, "Heads Gonna Roll" On the Line  (Warner, Mar 22)  D
- Cactus Blossoms, "Got a Lotta Love" Easy Way  (Walkie Talkie, Mar 1)
- Pokey LaFarge, "Cairo, Illinois" Something in the Water  (Concord, 15)
- Long Ryders, "California State Line" Psychedelic Country Soul  (Prima, 19)
- Hayes Carll, "Beautiful Thing" What it Is  (Dualtone, 19)
- Over the Rhine, "Los Lunas" Love & Revelation  (Great Speckled Dog, Mar 15)
- William Elliott Whitmore, "Lord Only Knows" Hymns for the Hopeless  (Southern, 03)

New stuff hit those imaginary record store shelves this week from Ryan Bingham and Hayes Carll.  We reviewed Charles Wesley Godwin here a couple weeks ago, and we celebrate the long awaited return of Long Ryders.  JS Ondara has appeared on our playlists several times since late last year, and his debut project is finally here.  Also available in full are Robert Ellis, Boo Ray, Rosie Flores and more (you'll find them all to your right at A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster).

Lots of stuff added to our Release Calendar this week, including promising projects from the Yawpers on Bloodshot and the Bohannons on Cornelius Chapel.  After an absence that seemed to stretch for decades, AA Bondy is back with a May Enderness.  Other notable additions include Tyler Ramsey, Jimbo Mathus and Will Kimbrough.  Plus, it looks like Damien Jurado's next collection will be presented on Mama Bird.

Among next week's generous outpouring of records, we'll have full records from Matthew Logan Vasquez and Vandoliers.  Keep an eye open for the Easy Eye debut from Yola, and don't miss the re-release of Ray Charles seminal Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music.  We'll have new Susto next week, along with Our Native Daughters, featuring the banjo wizardry of Rhiannon Giddens, Amythyst Kiah, Leyla McCalla and Allison Russell.

Here's this week's ROUTES-cast:

remember that you can always enjoy our five most recent ROUTES-casts on our Spotify page

Monday, February 11, 2019

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
February 10, 2019
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

Caleb Elliott, by Joshua Black Wilkins
Despite the valiant efforts of folks like Kacey Musgraves, Chris Stapleton and Jason Isbell, our kind of music will never go mainstream.  The gospel of americana, and roots music will always be an underground affair, a message preached by independent labels and under-the-radar blogs like ours, to a choir of the converted.  And I wouldn't have it any other way.  It's why I adore operations like Single Lock Records, a boutique record label and recording studio with deep roots in its Florence, Alabama home.  Owned and operated in part by singer-songwriter John Paul White and Ben Tanner (Alabama Shakes), Single Lock has issued R&B-approved projects from Cedric Burnside, Nicole Atkins, the Pollies and more.  From an interview with White:  Being able to make a proper record in a proper studio with a producer and other musicians and not have the clock ticking over their head ... Not have it be so expensive they have to cram the entire record into an hour of studio time or have to make it on a laptop in somebody’s closet. Once you have that, then it opens up so many more avenues where you just need to get out in a van and tour your ass off. And you have that calling card: here’s who we are, not a close facsimile of what we could be.

Single Lock's newest calling card comes in the form of Caleb Elliott's debut full-length,  Forever to Fade (Mar 8).  Elliott is a classically-trained cellist from Alabama by way of Louisiana, a go-to master of orchestral touches who has contributed to projects by Dylan LeBlanc and Lera Lynn, among others. The product of an unconventional religious upbringing that removed him from most outside influences, Elliott foregoes the typical avenues to his craft and charts his own course through the swamp-pop and country-soul of his Louisiana soil.

Elliott hits a sweet spot with the sounds of Forever to Fade.  It’s well-steeped in classic 60s and 70s Shoals sounds, even as he and producer Tanner stack things up in an unexpected fashion.  They’re familiar pieces, the guitar and keys, the deep and rewarding grooves, along with a deceptively soulful vocal a’la Andrew Combs or Sam Lewis.  Topping it all off are Elliott’s strings, swooping and dipping on “Get Me Out of Here”, dripping with honey on “Makes Me Wonder”.

Forever launches with that masterful "Makes Me Wonder", a slippery-cool track that employs sitar and glockenspiel alongside those strings.  Like much of the record, the song's brighter surface is countered by darker, conflicted messages:  They say there's power in the blood / Is that why you can't get enough / Heaven help me understand / How to never be that kind of man.

Historically, the most seemingly sparkling pop serves as a vehicle to deliver those barbed messages.  "Burns Like Hell" is a strummy and tuneful gem belying a center of regret:  These are the shivers that run down her spine / These are the places she knows so well / But she don't wanna go / 'Cause it burns like hell.  "On Your Own" rides on the sort of insistent retro go-go groove that Elliott helped build for Nicole Atkins' most recent record.  While those retro Shoals references abound, Elliott is a genuinely capable artist whose lyrics and vocal delivery lend the album a deeper and more personal resonance.

Forever to Fade dips deep into the Southern gothic music well, offering a suitably diverse helping of country and folk-leaning sounds.  "Old Souls" is a lovely Band-like ode to an idyllic place and time:  Here's to you / Looking back at me, Elliott sings, accompanied by piano lines worthy of Richard Manuel.  Classical guitar flourishes and cello are showcased on the dark folk of "Till the Tides Turn":  Till the wind and the tides turn / And the harvest is come / We'll forget what we've done here / Find a new way to store up the hatred they're longing for.

Two of the CD's finest moments await at the close of the set, a pair of songs that reinforce the range of Caleb Elliott's gifts.  "El Paso" is achingly melodic, a dusky reflection on distance and the liberation of the road, glimmering with fine guitar work:  Gave away all I couldn't take with me / The only way I could ever truly set me free.   The closer, "Black Lungs", unexpectedly recalls David Gilmour/Pink Floyd guitars, echoing with a gorgeously psychedelic big sky reverb.

Forever to Fade is rich with surprises from Caleb Elliott and his collaborators at Single Lock Records.  We'd be missing too much to write it off as a mere retro project.  Despite the rewardingly familiar touches, there is a unique talent to Elliott's work that overflows those boundaries.  Elliott's debut is the sort of hidden treasure that I've come to expect from the small, independent labels like Single Lock, a greatly appreciated gift that keeps me digging into those darker corners of our kind of music.

^ Caleb Elliott, "Burns Like Hell" Forever to Fade  (Single Lock, Mar 8)
- Shovels & Rope, "The Wire" By Blood  (Dualtone, Apr 12)
- Michael Chapman, "Full Bottle Empty Heart" True North  (Paradise of Bachelors, 19)
- Steve Earle, "LA Freeway" Guy  (New West, Mar 29)
- Holmes Brothers, "Gasoline Drawers" State of Grace  (Alligator, 07)
- Charles Wesley Godwin, "Shrinks and Pills" Seneca  (CWG, Feb 15)
- Cass McCombs, "I Followed the River South to What" Tip of the Sphere  (Anti, 19)
- Anna Tivel, "Minneapolis" The Question  (Fluff & Gravy, Apr 19)
- Gourds, "Everybody's Missing the Sun" Shinebox  (Munich, 01)
- Blank Range, "Gutters" In Unison  (Sturdy Girl, 19)
- Meat Puppets, "Sea of Heartbreak" Dusty Notes  (Megaforce, Mar 8)
- Dead Tongues, "Road to Heaven" single  (Dead Tongues, 19)  D
- Robert Ellis, "When You're Away" Texas Piano Man  (New West, Feb 14)
- Ona, "American Fiction" American Fiction  (Ona, 16)
- Todd Snider, "Like a Force of Nature (feat. Jason Isbell)" Cash Cabin Sessions Vol 3  (Aimless, Mar 15)
- Mavis Staples, "Can You Get to That (live)" Live in London  (Anti, 19)
- Jason Ringenberg, "God Bless the Ramones" Stand Tall  (Ringenberg, 19)  D
- Felice Brothers, "Undress" Undress  (Yep Roc, May 3)  D
- Gurf Morlix, "Backbeat of the Dispossessed" Impossible Blue  (Morlix, 19)  D
- J Tillman, "Milk White Air" Cancer and Delirium  (Yer Bird, 07)
- David Huckfelt, "Still and Still Moving" Stranger Angels  (Huckfelt, Feb 22)  D
- Matthew Logan Vasquez, "Love My Boy" Light'n Up  (Dine Alone, Feb 22)
- Mercury Rev, "Courtyard (feat. Beth Orton)" Bobbie Gentry's the Delta Sweete Revisited  (Partisan, 19)
- Reed Foehl, "Stealing Starlight" Lucky Enough  (Foehl, 19)
- Rod Melancon, "Corpus Christi Carwash" Pinkville  (Blue Elan, Apr 5)  D
- Simon Joyner, "You Got Under My Skin" Grass Branch & Bone  (Woodsist, 15)
- Cale Tyson, "What Doesn't Kill You" narcissist  (Tyson, 19)
- Over the Rhine, "Love & Revelation" Love & Revelation  (Great Speckled Dog, Mar 15)
- Pieta Brown, "Lovin' You Still" Shimmer  (Red House, 09)
- Sharon Van Etten, "Never Grow Old" Gospel of Eureka  (Palmieri, 19)  D

This week we're blessed with the release of Mercury Rev's remarkable ode to Bobbie Gentry's Delta Sweete.  Michael Chapman's True North hits stores, as well as Jason Ringenberg's first solo work in years.  Stay tuned for next week's big release date, featuring a sprawling array of new projects from Long Ryders, Hayes Carll, Rosie Flores and more.  JS Ondara brings us americana by way of Kenya, inspired by Dylan.  Ryan Bingham and Robert Ellis add to their generous discography.  And we'll have full access to Charles Wesley Godwin's Seneca (reviewed here a couple weeks ago).

Monday, February 04, 2019

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
February 3, 2019
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

by Bridgette Aikens

Back in August of 2017, I chose to review two projects from a couple of bands who were new to Routes & Branches. I wrote: Let’s talk about Noise. Thick guitars battling against heavy drums, a buzz that reaches from edge to edge, with all the spaces colored in. I want my music to make noise, to push against the quiet until there’s nowhere to go but deeper into the static. I think I used to write better than I do now …

Anyhow, those bands, William the Conqueror and Blank Range, really have little in common beyond their appeal. They’re both releasing new projects this winter, both maturing nicely into their groove, each worth your while. Since 2017’s Marooned With the Treasure, Blank Range have spent a good deal of time on the road, working with acts as diverse as Margo Price, Spoon, Tyler Childers and Death Cab. It’s a lineup that speaks well to the Nashville quartet’s range of influence and appeal, reaching from cosmic americana to power pop.

One of the appeals of Marooned lay in that unpredictability. Like Blitzen Trapper, Blank Range will occasionally unspool into the “cosmic” side of the equation. Like Deer Tick, they remain in touch with their garage roots, and throw in Matthew Logan Vasquez’s Delta Spirit for their ability to cast a sharp pop hook. To their credit, on In Unison their musical vision is honed and the band’s collective identity comes into greater focus.

This “unison” can’t be easy for an outfit that allows each of its contributors to follow their respective muse. Guitarists Jonathan Childers and Grant Gustafson share vocal turns, along with bassist Taylor Zachary. Drummer Matt Novotny is a writer as well. Gustafson’s “Gutters” bears a drunky Replacements-esque buzz. Close on that song’s heels is the undeniable Big Star appeal of Zachry’s sticky “Change Your Look”. Consider the latter an early candidate for my favorite songs list in ten months, cruising by like a sleek pop Camaro in just over two minutes.

What could be a distracting diversity of perspective actually comes across more cohesively. “Career” recalls a young Ryan Adams, while there is country ease to “Lonely II”: I may not be the man you had in mind / But I can be your consolation prize / For spending only one less lonely night. With its Stones-y guitars and subtle keys, “Proximity” dangles another of those dangerous pop hooks. “Radio” splits the difference with a stuttering tempo and soulful backing vocals. 

Where Marooned might’ve reached too far for lyrical profundity, the songs of In Unison stay closer to home. Lyrics are uniformly smart and focused, conveying the earned wisdom of young adulthood. As “Change Your Look” catches you up, the song prescribes a change of outlook and self-definition as a cure for what ails you: Untie the noose / Put down the gun / You can change your look. Even as Gustafson acknowledges his inspiration in Hermann Hesse, “Proximity” never tangles its message in philosophizing: I fall in love with proximity / I only have eyes for what’s in front of me

Blank Range reportedly spent a couple more days in the studio for their self-produced sophomore record, though the band shared a common commitment to a live and unadorned vibe. That directness pays off throughout In Unison, exhibiting an instrumental confidence and a thematic unity. What presented as promise on their debut is close to fruition on their follow-up. That immediate appeal that drew our attention on Marooned is rewarded on the easy charm of Blank Range’s new collection.

- Caroline Spence, "Long Haul" Long Haul  (Rounder, May 3)- Reed Foehl, "American Miles" Lucky Enough  (Foehl, 19)  D
^ Blank Range, "Proximity" In Unison  (Sturdy Girl, 19)
- Jim White, "Still Waters" Wrong-Eyed Jesus  (Luaka Bop, 07)
- Mandolin Orange, "When She's Feeling Blue" Tides of a Teardrop  (Yep Roc, 19)
- Lula Wiles, "Shaking As It Turns" What Will We Do  (Smithsonian, 19)
- John Paul White, "My Dreams Have All Come True" Hurting Kind  (Single Lock, Apr 12)
- Amelia White, "Said It Like a King" Rhythm of the Rain  (White-Wolf, 19)
- Jason Isbell & 400 Unit, "Last Song I Will Write" Jason Isbell & 400 Unit  (Southeastern, 09)
- Deer Tick, "Bluesboy" Mayonnaise  (Partisan, 19)
- GA-20, "Naggin' On My Mind (feat. Luther Dickinson & Charlie Musselwhite)" single  (Colemine, 18)  D
- Yola, "Love All Night (Work All Day)" Walk Through Fire  (Easy Eye, Feb 22)
- Quaker City Night Hawks, "Colorado" QCNH  (Lightning Rod, Mar 1)
- Lucero, "Kiss the Bottle" Basement Tapes  (Liberty & Lament, 00)
- M Lockwood Porter, "Dream Is Dead" Communion In the Ashes  (Black Mesa, Mar 29)  D
- Hayes Carll, "Times Like These" What It Is  (Dualtone, Feb 15)
- Leyla McCalla, "Heavy As Lead" Capitalist Blues  (McCalla, 19)  D
- Twain, "Young God (gotta lotta feeling)" New Miami Sound EP  (Keeled Scales, 19)  D
- David Ramirez, "Dancing and Vodka" Apologies  (Sweetworld, 12)
- Chatham County Line, "Think I'm In Love" Sharing the Covers  (Yep Roc, Mar 18)
- William Tyler, "Man In a Hurry" Goes West  (Merge, 19)
- Richard Thompson, "Backlash Love Affair" Rumor and Sigh  (Capitol, 91)
- Michael Chapman, "Truck Song" True North  (Paradise of Bachelors, Feb 8)
- Ryan Bingham, "Pontiac" American Love Song  (Axster Bingham, Feb 15)
- Avett Brothers, "Neapolitan Sky" single  (Republic, 19)  D
- Iron & Wine, "Passing Afternoon (demo)" Our Endless Numbered Days (Deluxe Edition)  (Sub Pop, Mar 22)  D
- Patty Griffin, "Where I Come From" Patty Griffin  (PGM, Mar 8)
- Boo Ray, "20 Questions" Tenessee Alabama Fireworks  (Boo Ray, Feb 15)
- John Calvin Abney, "In Such a Strange Town" Far Cries and Close Calls  (JCA, 16)
- Josh Ritter, "Old Black Magic" Fever Breaks  (Pytheas, Apr 26)  D

As February dawns, we're gifted this week with new records from Deer Tick, Reed Foehl (backed by Band of Heathens), and Cale Tyson, with an EP exhibiting more of an indie folk vibe.  Next week, keep an eye open for the release of records from Sean McConnell and British guitar mentor Michael Chapman.  We'll enjoy CDs in their entirety from Mercury Rev, paying tribute to Bobbie Gentry, as well as the first solo project in years from Jason Ringenberg. You'll find more of this name-dropping nonsense on the link to your right: A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster.