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Thursday, February 18, 2021

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
February 14, 2021
Scott Foley, purveyor of hearts

Mando Saenz has written songs for and/or collaborated with Oak Ridge Boys, Miranda Lambert, Whiskey Myers, Lee Ann Womack and many more. I would argue that his strongest songs can be found on his own records, gems that are released sporadically, but which are always worth the attention. "Engine Roll", "Pocket Change", "A Touch Is All", "When I Come Around", "Julia", "Pocket of Red", "All I Own". It's work that merits inclusion on any list of the best the last fifteen years have had to offer. At an average of an album every four years, each has taken a different route to sharing the songwriter's work, each boasting a different supporting cast, a different producer at the helm (John Egan, Frank Liddell, Mark Nevers). 

Almost eight years have passed since Studebaker, the last Mando Saenz collection. A lot can happen in eight years. What strikes our musical fancy today will likely not be at the front of mind in a decade. For All My Shame (Carnival, Feb 26), Saenz has tagged another in his line of superb production partners in Ken Coomer, onetime Uncle Tupelo/Wilco drummer and longtime producer. While these new sessions don't represent a fullscale reimagining of Mando Saenz's music, the collaborators explore some new pop territory on the way to creating suitable new settings. 

"Cautionary Tale" is a characteristically melancholy Mando Saenz piece, though brightened with a Ron Sexsmith-like pop touch. Rays of strings shine through the clouds, tempering the song's sense of doubt:  It doesn't always have to come up roses / A silhouette, a cigarette pose. Guthrie Trapp adds strains of mandolin to "Can't Stay Alone For Long", a piano-based piece that bears the same stamp of self-sabotage: In the morning I'll say Lord what have I done.

Mando Saenz isn't the kind of self-referential songwriter who wows with bold strokes and flourishes. Rather, he works with subtler shades on songs like "The Leaving Side": My goodbyes are like a dime a dozen. Even these quieter moments are supported by a cohort that makes them satisfying without being showy, even beautiful at times. Those accompanists include the capable (and increasingly busy) Laur Joamets, whose cinematic guitar strengthens the slightly psychedelic title track. His strings ring through one of the CD's most tuneful cuts, "Talk Is Cheap". An undercelebrated vocalist, Maureen Murphy adds harmonies throughout, especially impactful on "Shadow Boxing", cowritten with Kim Richey. 

With Ken Coomer, Saenz offers a fuller, wider reaching sound throughout All My Shame. "Deep End" features Coomer's pounding percussion beneath thick and atmospheric electric guitar. Another heavier cut, "The More I Need" presents a tough edge as it stomps along on "London Calling" drums: Bang my head on an old brick wall / Building it up just to watch it fall. Even in the midst of that bonus noise, Saenz's tunes are lean and purposeful, most clocking in around three minutes. It can't be overlooked that he remains one of the most distinct and likeable vocalists on our playlists. 

Ironically, this songwriter's showcase finishes with one of the year's more surprising cover songs. After making his case as a skilled and a savvy writer, Mando Saenz turns to Ronnie James Dio to close the record. Even those of us who grew up with Holy Diver on heavy rotation might not catch it at first in its chamber setting, replete with violin solo. Taken by the lyrics of "Rainbow in the Dark", Saenz sought to treat it in the vein of Townes Van Zandt. It's a fascinating but unexpectedly effective cap to the long-awaited All My Shame

- Shakey Graves, "Roll the Bones" Roll the Bones X  (Dualtone, Apr 2)  D
- Ryley Walker, "Rang Dizzy" Course in Fable  (Husky Pants, Apr 2)  D
- Rose City Band, "Lonely Places" Earth Trip  (Thrill Jockey, May 21)  D
- Fruit Bats, "The Balcony" Pet Parade  (Merge, Mar 5)
- Shannon McNally, "I Ain't Living Long Like This (feat. Rodney Crowell)" Waylon Sessions  (Compass, May 28)  D
- Hand Habits, "I Believe In You" dirt EP  (Saddle Creek, Feb 19)
- Brother Brothers, "Sorrow" Calla Lily  (Compass, Apr 16)
- Dan Campbell, "When I Face Into the Wind" single  (Loneliest Place on Earth, 21)  D
- Hailey Whitters, "How Far Can It Go (feat. Trisha Yearwood)" Living the Dream  (Pigasus, Feb 26)
- Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, et al., "Times They Are a-Changin'"  single  (NGDB, 21)  D
- Parker Millsap, "Vulnerable" Be Here Instead  (Okrahoma, Apr 9)
^ Mando Saenz, "Rainbow in the Dark" All My Shame  (Carnival, Feb 26)
- Beth Lee, "Yale St & 45" Waiting On You Tonight  (Beth Lee, 21)  D
- Jeremy Ivey, "Loser Town (live)" Monolith Sessions  (Anti, 21)  D
- Morgan Wade, "Take Me Away" Reckless  (Ladylike, Mar 19)
- Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band, "Ways and Means" Dance Songs For Hard Times  (Family Owned, Apr 9)  D
- Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird, "Poor Lost Souls" These 13  (Wegawam, Mar 5)
- Lake Street Dive, "Hypotheticals" Obviously  (Nonesuch, Mar 12)
- Grant-Lee Phillips, "Rag Town" single  (Yep Roc, 21)  D
- Mac Leapheart, "Music City Joke" Music City Joke  (Leapheart, 21)  D
- The Barlow, "Hard Lovin'" Horseshoe Lounge  (Barlow, 21)  D
- Melissa Carper, "I Almost Forgot About You" Daddy's Country Gold  (Carper, Mar 19)
- Ottoman Turks, "Wound Up" Ottoman Turks II  (State Fair, Mar 5)
- Jason Ringenberg, "Keep That Promise" Rhinestoned  (Courageous Chicken, Mar 5)  D
- Corb Lund, "Horse Poor (feat. Jaida Dreyer)" single  (New West, 21)  D
- Lydia Luce, "Dark River" Dark River  (Tone Tree, Feb 26)  D
- David Huckfelt, "Hidden Made Known" Room Enough Time Enough  (Gamblers Dharma, Feb 26)
- Peter Oren, "Search For the Marketable Product" single  (Sentinel Species, 21)  D
- Jay Gonzalez, "Sunspot" Back to the Hive  (Middlebrow, Mar 5) 
- Charles Ellsworth, "Miama, AZ" Honeysuckle Summer  (Burro Borracho, Mar 5)

Busiest week of 2021 at A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster. Highlights include the return of one of the founders of our kind of music. Set March 1 as the release date for Rhinestoned from Jason Ringenberg (Courageous Chicken). Reverend Peyton's Big Damn Band offers Dance Songs For Hard Times on April 9 via the Family Owned label. Been too long since Bowerbirds shared much beyond a single here and there. That will change on April 30 with the release of becalmyounglovers (Psychic Hotline). Bassist for Shooter Jennings and producer for many others, Ted Russell Kamp will share Solitaire on May 7, composed primarily of songs he recorded on his own. Shannon McNally's next album features her take on Waylon Jennings songs. The Waylon Sessions finds the singer backed by Kenny Vaughan, Buddy Miller, Rodney Crowell and others (May 28, Compass). 

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:


Thursday, February 11, 2021

PONY BRADSHAW - CALiCO JiM


ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
February 10, 2021
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

2019's Sudden Opera was one of the year's most notable debuts. Delivered by Pony Bradshaw, the collection was a polished gem, introducing a songwriter who had seemingly arrived on the national scene nearly fully formed. What's more, the North Georgia denizen was granted a seat at the Rounder Records table. Pony Bradshaw's follow-up finds him choosing a much different path, and it's an impressive statement of artistic identity. 

Calico Jim springs from the mythology of Pony Bradshaw's North Georgia home, drawn from the cadences of speech, the stories and the sounds, even down to the roots of the flora. Songs call forth the cinnamon vine and the sweetgrass, the poison sumac along with the kudzu wrapped in hemlock teeth. Like the record's jacket art, the pictures are rich but they are not precious. The place is beloved but it is not sacred. Bradshaw called it less glamor, more nutrients.  

The polish that graced Bradshaw's Sudden Opera has been sanded down to a rough grain  on pieces like "Sawtoothed Jericho". Casey Collis' fiddle wheezes atop a subtle bass pulse, countered by slicks of bluesy electric guitar. These rituals / Them dark spells / Come on cast 'em mama, he sings, Ain't no shaman but I'll wade through the slough & the scruff.  The title track is delivered in a rollicking mid-tempo gallup, a strummed acoustic racing alongside Philippe Bronchtein's pedal steel (Bronchtein has recorded some terrific records under the Hip Hatchet moniker). These aren't lo-fi recordings, but they focus on the warmth and the embrace of the primarily acoustic instruments, comfortable in their imperfections. 

Pony Bradshaw reveals himself to be a lyricist of rare talent on his new collection, stacking words like firewood and casting sparks with his wordplay. He takes risks in sidestepping easy rhyme schemes and lazy verse-chorus-verse arrangements, and this is tremendously welcome in a genre that too often cruises by on cliche. The evocative "Jimmy the Cop" tells a full story in a couple lines of verse: I cook with my uncle in this third flush of youth / He's been off the grid since he left Roan Mountain / It's a stubborn march towards decay. "Hillbilly Possessed" is a spirit-haunted tale of a snake handling preacher, pedal steel ringing and keening in the tune's dark setting: I once saw him suck out the poison / From an ankle bone bite wound of a gal he was courting. These are stories. They are poetry.  

The North Georgia of Calico Jim isn't a cartoon or a paradise, it's not a warning or a cautionary tale. Most importantly, Pony Bradshaw's work doesn't damn the South for its transgressions, he simply allows the stories to speak for themselves. In a voice like a young Lyle Lovett, he embodies the defiant spirit on "Dope Mountain": Proud to be a hillbilly, 6th generation / But we ain't no white trash. Atop the heavier guitar of "Guru", he calls, Stretch out your vowels boy, show 'em your pedigree.  

The songwriter himself explains, I tried to think small about big things. In his warts-and-all portrait of the South, Pony Bradshaw can join the rare cast of initialed songwriters like SG Goodman, HC McEntire and MC Taylor. Even more than these others, the Calico Jim lyric sheet reads like a collection of short stories, impressionistic poetry that casts spells and recites incantations about the magic of place. 


^ Pony Bradshaw, "Hillbilly Possessed" Calico Jim  (Black Mt, 21)
- Staves, "Next Year Next Time" Good Woman  (Nonesuch, 21)
- Aaron Lee Tasjan, "Another Lonely Day" Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!  (New West, 21)
- Leigh Nash, "Good Trouble (feat. Ruby Amanfu)" single  (One Vision, 21)  D
- Band of Horses, "Throw My Mess" Why Are You OK  (Interscope, 16)
- Julien Baker, "Favor" Little Oblivions  (Matador, Feb 26)
- Shovels & Rope, "Cry Baby (feat. Deer Tick)" Busted Jukebox Vol 3  (Dualtone, 21)
- Jim Keller, "Easy Rider" By No Means  (Orange Mt, Feb 12)
- Rock*A*Teens, "Across the Piedmont" Golden Time  (Merge, 99)
- Weather Station, "Tried to Tell You" Ignorance  (Fat Possum, 21)
- New Madrid, "It's OK (2 Cry)" New Madrid  (Lemonade, Apr 30)  D
- Painted Shrines, "Heaven and Holy" Heaven and Holy  (Woodsist, Mar 5)
- Sun June, "Everything I Had" Somewhere  (Run For Cover, 21)  D
- JD McPherson, "Style (Is a Losing Game)" Undivided Heart & Soul  (New West, 17)
- William the Conqueror, "Move On" Maverick Thinker  (Chrysalis, Mar 5)
- Jay Gonzalez, "(I Wanna) Hold You" Back to the Hive  (Middlebrow, Mar 5)  D
- Esther Rose, "How Many Times" How Many Times  (Father/Daughter, Mar 26)
- Hem, "When I Was Drinking" Rabbit Songs  (Nettwerk, 01)
- Jake Xerxes Fussell, "Copper Kettle" single  (Paradise of Bachelors, 21)  D
- Lasers Lasers Birmingham, "Making a Scene" single  (LLB, 21)  D
- Birger Olsen, "Color of Spring" single  (Olsen, 21)  D
- Left Arm Tan, "Carnations" Alticana  (LAT, 13)
- Melissa Carper, "Makin' Memories" Daddy's Country Gold  (Carper, Mar 19)  D
- Rick Holmstrom, "Losing My Shit" See That Light  (Louellie, Feb 26)
- Brigitte DeMeyer, "Salt of the Earth (feat. Oliver Wood)" Seeker  (DeMeyer, Mar 26)  D
- Lucero, "All My Life" When You Found Me  (Liberty & Lament, 21)
- Lia Ices, "Earthy" Family Album  (Natural, 21)
- Elijah Ocean, "Phoenix" single  (Envoy, 21)  D
- Jon Charles Dwyer, "Mississippi" Junebug  (Bitter Melody, 21)
- Beth Orton, "Sweetest Decline" Central Reservation  (Deconstruction, 99)


This week's additions to A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster add some promising light to our present musical tunnel. Drive-by Trucker Jay Gonzalez will make available his second solo full-length record next month. Due March 5, Back to the Hive will be released on the singer-guitarist's own Middlebrow label. Black Twig Pickers are the strongest argument I know for the value of old time string band music. Six years since the excellent Seasonal Hire, they've announced the release of Friend's Peace April 2 via the VHF label. Ten years after its initial release, Shakey Graves has planned for Roll the Bones X. The expanded double-LP lands via Dualtone on April 2. That same day, save your allowance for Ryley Walker's Course in Fable on the Husky Pants label. Last year's Summerlong garnered some end-of-year acclaim for Wooden Shjips and Moon Duo member Ripley Johnson and his Rose City Band. May 21 marks the release date for the follow-up, Earth Trip (Thrill Jockey). 

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:


Thursday, February 04, 2021

WEATHER STATiON - iGNORANCE

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
February 7, 2021
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

Let's be honest here. As a music makin' month, January hasn't really kept up its side of the deal. Sure, we can blame the plague-demic, and February arrives with a degree of promise. But every month we try to find something to hold onto, something to champion as the best the last 31 days have had to offer. In order of appearance:  

WHAT's SO GREAT ABOUT JANUARY?!!

Steve Earle, JT  (New West, Jan 4)
Buck Meek, Two Saviors  (Keeled Scales, Jan 15)
Lucero, When You Found Me  (Liberty & Lament, Jan 29)
Pony Bradshaw, Calico Jim  (Black Mt, Jan 29)
Langhorne Slim, Strawberry Mansion  (Dualtone, Jan 29)

Tamara Lindeman is Weather Station. It's a regrettable name for a singer-songwriter, not to mention a challenging one to google.  The Canadian's work under the Weather Station moniker effectively began with 2011's All of It Was Mine, produced by Daniel Romano. Lindeman accompanied herself on banjo or guitar, with only select other instruments deployed in support. Following an EP that added more atmospherics to her mix, Weather Station began a process of musical evolution with 2015's Loyalty. By the time of 2017's self-titled sessions, Tamara Lindeman had largely fleshed out her early folk sound, working alongside artists like Nathan Salsburg and Bahamas' Afie Jurvanen in addition to abandoning herself to a more confident, freewheeling approach to her vocals. 

I suppose it might come as a surprise that Lindeman's new project is Weather Station's first dedicated to the issues of climate change. Ignorance doesn't preach or proselytize or point fingers; it's not a document of the destruction of our planet. The songs instead explore the emotional consequence of the global crisis, the fallout from our fall-apart. As a lyricist she is skilled to the point that we never once are prompted to picture a sad-eyed seal wandering in search of a more suitable habitat. 

In many ways, it's difficult to imagine what we hear on Ignorance is an evolution of the timid-voiced songstress of those earlier Weather Station records. There are skittering beats throughout the collection, rhythms that belie the cool nature of Lindeman's jazz-shaped arrangements. These aren't Charlie XCX dancefloor bangers, but listeners could dance to songs like "Parking Lot" if they were so inclined. With its subtle bass pulse, the tune bears quiet witness to the flight of a bird, emotions rising and falling in time with its wings: It felt intimate to watch it she sings, It's small chest rising and falling / As it sang the same song over and over again / Over the traffic and the noise

Ignorance is a beautiful album, seeming both distantly cool and unbearably intimate. Composed on piano, the arrangements breathe and sigh with woodwinds and strings, familiar bass and guitar playing a largely supportive role. Ticking percussion trips beneath "Robber", a dark song punctuated with dramatic bursts of strings. Appropriate for a nature-oriented collection, these are organic sounds - flutes fluttering like reeling shearwaters on "Atlantic" as the singer questions her obligation to acknowledge what she knows to be true: I should really know better than to read the headlines / Does it matter if I see it? / Why can't I just cover my eyes? Lindeman answers her own question on the racing "Heart": Of all the things that you may ask of me / Don't ask me for indifference / Don't come to me for distance

Tamara Lindeman's low-registered voice has always been intriguing, and on this fifth album she invests more in her range both musically and emotionally. That voice swells and sighs with the strings on the mournful "Trust": This is the end of love ... the end of trust.  She takes inventory of what's at risk: The bodies of the common birds / Robins and crows and thrushes / Everything that I have loved. On "Separated" the accounting takes stock of the effect of the climate crisis on the very connection that holds our societies together. "Subdivisions" closes this doomsday clock of an LP gorgeously, with Lindeman sounding like she's emerging from a reverie, her delivery like a more grounded Kate Bush. 

There are no answers on Ignorance. Instead these restless songs arrive as dispatches from Weather Station's poetic wanderings. She is as tangled in the wild as Neko Case, as intuitive as Fiona Apple. On "Tried to Tell You" Lindeman sings: I feel as useless as a tree in a city park / Standing as a symbol of what we have blown apart. Ignorance bears simultaneous witness to the threat to both the wild of our world and of our psyche. With its electric arrangements and the power of Lindeman's artistry, the album should lift Weather Station to the prominence of Julien Baker and Phoebe Bridgers. 

- Lorenzo Wolff, "The Pearl (feat. Bartees Strange)" Down Where the Valleys Are Low: Another Otherworld for Judee Sill  (StorySound, Mar 12)  D
- Lucero, "Coffin Nails" When You Found Me  (Liberty & Lament, 21)
- Morgan Wade, "Wilder Days" Reckless  (Ladylike, Mar 19)  D
- Dead South, "Black Lung (live)" Served Live  (Six Shooter, 21)
- Have Gun Will Travel, "Trouble" Raw Materials: Home Demos  (Burke, 20)
- Luke Bell, "Jealous Guy" single  (Bill Hill, 21)  D
- Roger Harvey, "What a Weird Hill to Die On" single  (Lion's Tooth, 21)  D
- Courtney Patton, "Alabama" The Years: MusicFest Tribute to Cody Canada  (Right Ave, 21)
- Robbie Fulks, "Georgia Hard" Georgia Hard  (Yep Roc, 05)
- Esther Rose, "Keeps Me Running" How Many Times  (Father/Daughter, Mar 26)  D
- Langhorne Slim, "Dreams" Strawberry Mansion  (Dualtone, 21)
- Bill Mackay & Nathan Bowles, "Joyride" Keys  (Drag City, Apr 9)  D
- Corb Lund, "One Left in the Chamber (acoustic)" Cabin Fever (deluxe)  (New West, 21)
- Ian Noe, "Loving You" Between the Country  (Natl Treasury, 19)
- Shovels & Rope, "In My Room (feat. Sharon Van Etten)" Busted Jukebox Vol 3  (Dualtone, Feb 5)  D
- Delvon Lamarr Organ Trio, "Hole in One" I Told You So  (Colemine, 21)  D
- Jim Keller, "Find My Shadow" By No Means  (Orange Mt, Feb 12)
- War on Drugs, "Eyes to the Wind" Lost in the Dream  (Secretly Canadian, 14)
- Craig Finn, "Calvary Court" All These Perfect Crosses  (Partisan, Feb 26)
- Dr Dog, "Under the Wheels (live)" Live 2  (We Buy Gold, 21)
- Pony Bradshaw, "Foxfire" Calico Jim  (Black Mt, 21)
- Hailey Whitters, "Glad to Be Here (feat. Brent Cobb)" Living the Dream  (Pigasus, Feb 26)
- James McMurtry, "Fight (Tonight's the Night)" Man of Somebody's Dreams: Tribute to Chris Gaffney  (Yep Roc, 09)
- Lia Ices, "Hymn" Family Album  (Natural, 21)  D
- Buck Meek, "Pocketknife" Two Saviors  (Keeled Scales, 21)
- James Charles Dwyer, "Shame (feat. Jessica Lea Mayfield)" Junebug  (Bitter Melody, 21)  D
- Son Volt, "Cemetery Savior" Straightaways  (Warner, 97)
- Hold Steady, "Spices" Open Door Policy  (Positive Jams, Feb 19)
- Lucinda Williams, "Blue" Essence  (UMG, 01)
- Sara Watkins, "Pure Imagination" The Pepper Tree  (New West, Mar 26)  D

A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster tracks new and forthcoming releases for our kind of music. While we've come across no release date, we've learned that Hiss Golden Messenger's next project will be called Quietly Blowing It.  Originally a 2020 Record Store Day release, Craig Finn's All These Perfect Crosses will see the light of day for the rest of us on February 26. Released by Partisan Records, the LP collects outtakes from the Hold Steady frontman's solo work. Seven years since her last solo project, Brigitte DeMeyer returns with Seeker on March 26. From Athens, Georgia, New Madrid promise their new self-titled record on April 30 via their new Lemonade label. 

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:


Thursday, January 28, 2021

LUCERO - WHEN YOU FOUND ME

ROUTES & BRANCHES  
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
January 24, 2021
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust



What does Lucero sound like? Is it the rasp of Ben Nichols' voice? The punch of Brian Venable's guitar? Maybe it's Rick Steff's keys, or those Memphis horns that have come along more recently? Last Fall the band turned to its listeners to ask which of their songs they should play for a live streamed concert. Responses heavily favored songs from Lucero's 2002 Tennessee record, with only a smattering of requests from albums after 2012's Women and Work. Heck, absolutely no votes landed for the band's more recent projects, All a Man Should Do and 2018's terrific Among the Ghosts

I mention this by way of introducing Lucero's tenth studio collection, When You Found Me (Liberty & Lament). Because the record delivers strong performances from Nichols, Venable, Staff et al., it sounds like Lucero. But it doesn't sound like early Lucero, it doesn't sound like Tennessee. And that seems to have upset some folks. 

Ben Nichols and producer Matt Ross-Spang (who also produced Ghosts) set out to create a record with a very classic rock sound, something that recalled the hard rock that Nichols remembered from his youth, but that sacrificed none of its relevance as a contemporary project. "Have You Lost Your Way" opens the album with stabs of Veneble's electric guitar, Nichols' lyrics reading like a dark take on the Red Riding Hood fable: Little darling have you lost your way? With its "China Grove" piano and a chorus custom made for a drunken singalong, "Back in Ohio" might even make a future list of fan favorites: Back home in Ohhhhhh-hio ... There's even a sax solo, the collection's only horn sighting. 

But with a wife and four-year-old daughter at home, Nichols' life has changed. He seems to weave his own story into the overcast guitars and piano flourishes of "All My Life": Sing to me a wayward song / And I will follow your voice home. With his rusty buzz of a voice, Nichols will never sound like anyone else, even as cleaner living frees him to land more of the notes and to muster a cleaner tone. While Lucero doesn't have a reputation for reflective ballads, the LP's title cut allows Nichols to express his gratitude to his family in his most sincere vocal to date. With Steff's expressive piano and tasteful strings, "When You Found Me" closes the record on a heartfelt note: When you found me in the fire / I was drinking kerosene / Striking matches as the flames were growing higher

When You Found Me is a true band project, one that finds guitarist Venable delivering fiery riffs and drummer Roy Berry hitting hard and with abandon. A real treasure as a pianist, Steff brings his collection of vintage synthesizers and electric keyboards to several songs. "Outrun the Moon" is a throwback rocker with a pulsing synth, and the session's most interesting piece, "Pull Me Close Don't Let Go" builds on a widescreen electronic drone of keys. 

It's not a Lucero-does-Depeche-Mode record. Open-minded fans will find a lot to enjoy here. "Coffin Nails" is another of Ben Nichols' story songs, this one reportedly based on his grandfather's experience of his father's passing: I weigh my deeds on my father's scales / I balance them with coffin nails. "The Match" is a fable of a man coming to terms with his own shortcomings, perhaps given a second chance at redemption: It's whiskey and religion / It's guilty as a dog. See also the immediately relevant "City On Fire". 

I recognize that here at R&B HQ we do have our pet peeves. Among the foremost of those is a listener's insistence that an artist not change or evolve or try new things. Listeners who listen to the guitar-fueled tunes of When You Found Me and can only wish for another "Nights Like These" as opposed to embracing Nichols' ever-ripening musical vision or recognizing Lucero's evolution into an outfit of stellar instrumentalists. Ben Nichols' life has changed, and it wouldn't be genuine for him to continue writing songs about down-and-out debauchery and youthful misgivings. These new tunes recognize the songwriter as a storyteller, envisioning characters and populating history with flesh-and-blood personalities. For those of us who choose to follow Lucero as they explore new expressions, When You Found Me is richly rewarding. 

- Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers, "Humming Bird" Original Harmony Ridge Creek Dippers  (Glitterhouse, 97)
- Duff Thompson, "Feel What You Want" Haywire  (Mashed Potato, 20)
- Janet Simpson, "Nashville Girls" Safe Distance  (Cornelius Chapel, Mar 19)  D
- Steve Earle, "Maria" JT  (New West, 21)
- Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy - "Night Rider's Lament" single  (Drag City, 21)
- Pink Stone, "Blueberry Dream" Introducing ...  (Normaltown, Apr 9)  D
- Rick Holmstrom, "Lonesome Sound" See That Light  (Louellie, Feb 26)  D
- Staves, "Devotion" Good Woman  (Nonesuch, Feb 5)
- Mapache, "Lonesome LA Cowboy" Lonesome LA Cowboy EP  (Yep Roc, 18)
- Jim Keller, "Don't Get Me Started" By No Means  (Orange Mt, Feb 12)
- John Paul Keith, "I Don't Wanna Know" Rhythm of the City  (Wild Honey, Feb 19)  
- Amanda Shires, et al. - "Our Problem" single  (Silver Knife, 21)  D
- Cody Jinks, "No Words (live)" Red Rocks Live  (Late August, 20)
- Corb Lund, "Case of the Wine Soaked Preacher" Cabin Fever (deluxe)  (New West, 21)  D
- Valerie June, "Call Me a Fool (feat. Carla Thomas)" Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers  (Fantasy, Mar 12)  D
- Mando Saenz, "In All My Shame" All My Shame  (Carnival, Feb 26)  D
- Hand Habits, "4th of July" dirt EP  (Saddle Creek, Feb 19)  D
- Jerry Jeff Walker, "Shell Game" Driftin' Way of Life  (Vanguard, 69)
- Ryan Adams, "Dreaming You Backwards" Wednesdays  (PaxAm, 20)
- Pine Hill Haints, "Short Life of Trouble" 13  (Arkam, 21)
- Brother Brothers, "On the Road Again" Calla Lily  (Compass, Apr 16)  D
- Whitehorse, "Radiator Blues" Fate of the World Depends on This Kiss  (Six Shooter, 12)
- John Driskell Hopkins, "I Hate to See Good Whiskey Go to Waste" Lonesome High  (JDH, Feb 19)  D
- Holly Macve, "Be My Friend" Not the Girl  (Macve, Apr 16)  D
- Buck Meek, "Cannonball Pt 2" Two Saviors  (Keeled Scales, 21)
- Lindi Ortega, "Ashes" Faded Gloryville  (Last Gang, 15)
- James Yorkston & Second Hand Orchestra, "Ella Mary Leather" Wide Wide River  (Domino, 21)
- Jeffrey Foucault, "Mesa, Arizona" Deadstock: Uncollected Recordings 2005-2020  (Foucault, 20)
- Thee Conductor, "We're Not So OK (feat. Will Johnson)" Spirit of a Ghost  (Sixgunlover, 21)  D
- Cowboy Junkies, "200 More Miles" Trinity Session  (BMG, 88)


Activity is picking up nicely at A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster, our heartfelt account of record releases from week to week and month to month. Been so busy we'll only mention a fraction of what's been added this week. Shovels & Rope adds another knot to their series of Busted Jukebox collections. Vol 3 finds Cary Ann Hearst and Michael Trent trying their hand at a collection of covers selected with kids in mind (Dualtone, Feb 5). A member of Zac Brown's band who has also recorded with Balsam Range, John Driskell Hopkins returns with a rare solo record. Lonesome High will land on February 19. Four years is a bit too long to wait for a new Valerie June record. The third full-length of her career is promised for March 12. Courtesy of Fantasy Records, the collection is named Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers.  March 19 is the street date for Joe Pug's next LP, Diving Sun. Following her promising 2019 debut and an excellent covers EP, Esther Rose is back to writing her own songs. We can expect How Many Times on March 26, via Father/Daughter Records.

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:

 

Thursday, January 21, 2021

PiNE HiLL HAiNTS - 13

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
January 17, 2021
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

Even after thirteen albums, and even more singles, splits and EPs, Pine Hill Haints are sometimes unfairly regarded as a bit of a novelty outfit. They might be miscast as act that trades in slightly spooky music, revved up old-timey set to the rhythm of rattling bones. As their new collection 13 demonstrates, however, these purveyors of Alabama ghost music are deserving of far more attention for their diversity and musicianship. Even if they do throw in a Halloween song now and then.

Pine Hill Haints have built a career from traditional folk instruments and conventions. The individual parts and pieces might be familiar, but Jamie and Kat Barrier infuse their music with a dark, un-trad and even a punk spirit. What they've sent forth over the past twenty-plus years is aptly encapsulated by one reviewer who offered, If the Ramones had formed during the medicine show era of the 1920s, they may have sounded a lot like this

While 13 may be the collective's most eclectic session to date, Jamie Barrier's mission seems to have strayed very little over the years. Instead of faithfully replicating the roots of country, folk, gospel, etc the band jam them unceremoniously into a blender to agitate. What's remained constant is Pine Hill Haints' still sharp edge, lending a rumor of danger and transgression to their work. 

Yes, sometimes Barrier writes spooky songs. "Cemetery Dance" suggests cats are making circles with their tails held high, the lonely wail of a musical saw raising an unsteady breeze. At the halfway point, the patient shuffle kicks into a fevered Caribbean rhythm. See also "Halloween In New Orleans", which adds an accordion to the funeral parade. 

Their ghost music tagline just as often alludes to the forgotten nature of the deep roots they inhabit. With its scratchy bed of fiddle and mandolin, "Pistol Knows the Reason" is a Louisiana cajun kick. That wheezing fiddle drives "Short Life of Trouble", a waltz with a traditional broken heart. Barrier reportedly brought these songs to life in a more traditional way as well, convening the contributing players in a single room, their sounds captured by a relatively basic recording setup. In a time when perfection dulls the edge of much of our music, Pine Hill Haints sound more raw, more perfectly unrefined.  

This isn't to say that the songs of 13 aren't well executed. On the contrary, the loping "Born to Lose" plays like a lost Suicidal Tendencies demo. Like Mike Ness, Jamie Barrier is an underrated singer, able to channel cajun French here, before taking a turn at an early rock snarl or a gypsy jazz croon. the Haints' talent shines brightest on the LP's more rock-oriented tracks. "Morning Star" chugs along on traintrack percussion, featuring one of Barrier's strongest deliveries. Early rock cuts like "Cough Drops and Tear Drops" or the head-over-heels rush of "Your Wooden Heart Is Dead" last less than a minute, but make a racket on their way through. 

Here at R&B HQ, we've subscribed to Pine Hill Haints' uniquely skewed sound since 2007's seminal Ghost Dance. Over the years, records like To Win or To Lose or 2014's excellent Magik Sounds have attested to the fact that consistency doesn't have to be dull. 13 reminds listeners of the multi-dimensional musical reach of the band, not to mention the straightahead pleasure of a band capable of wielding a sharp edge. 

- Karen Jonas, "Long December" single  (Yellow Brick, 21)  D
- James Mathus & His Knockdown Society, "Mississippi Moan" Play Songs for Rosetta  (Mammoth, 97)
- Jim Keller, "Mistakes" By No Means  (Orange Mt, Feb 12)  D
- Hiss Golden Messenger, "Sanctuary" single  (Merge, 21)  D
- Solomon Burke, "Vicious Circle" Nashville  (Shout Factory, 06)
- Menahan Street Band, "The Duke" Exciting Sounds of  (Daptone, Feb 26)
- Lucero, "Back in Ohio" When You Found Me  (Liberty & Lament, Jan 29)
- Lake Street Dive, "Nobody's Stopping You Now" Obviously  (Nonesuch, Mar 12)
- Dr Dog, "Go Out Fighting (live)" Live 2  (We Buy Gold, Jan 29)
- Painted Shrines, "Gone (feat. Woods)" Heaven and Holy  (Woodsist, Mar 5)  D
- Aaron Lee Tasjan, "Don't Overthink It" Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!  (New West, Feb 5)
- Julien Baker, "Hardline" Little Oblivions  (Matador, Feb 26)
- John Moreland, "High On Tulsa Heat" High On Tulsa Heat  (Old Omens, 15)
- Jamie Lin Wilson, "17" The Years: MusicFest Tribute to Cody Canada  (Right Ave, 21)
- Cody Canada & the Departed, "Shut Up and Sing (feat. Todd Snider)" single  (Underground Sound, 21)  D
- Parker Millsap, "Real Thing" Be Here Instead  (Okrahoma, Apr 9)  D
- JP Harris, "Take Off Your Tin Foil Hat" single  (Demolition & Removal, 21)  D
- Hailey Whitters, "The Ride (feat. Jordan Davis)" Living the Dream  (Pigasus, Feb 26)
- Dead South, "The Recap (live)" Served Live  (Six Shooter, Jan 29)  D
^ Pine Hill Haints, "Blackbird Song" 13  (Arkam, 21)
- Jimbo Mathus & Andrew Bird, "Sweet Oblivion" These 13  (Wegawam, Apr 5)  D
- Buck Meek, "Two Saviors" Two Saviors  (Keeled Scales, 21)
- David Huckfelt, "Bury Me Not (feat. David Simonett)" Room Enough Time Enough  (Gamblers Dharma, Feb 26)
- Fruit Bats, "Holy Rose" Pet Parade  (Merge, Mar 5)  D
- Ana Egge, "This Time" single  (StorySound, 21)  D
- William the Conqueror, "Quiet Life" Maverick Thinker  (Chrysalis, Mar 5)  D
- James Yorkston & Second Hand Orchestra, "There is No Upside" Wide Wide River  (Domino, Jan 22)
- Carl Anderson, "Damn Thing" Taking Off and Landing  (Anderson, Feb 19)  D
- Honeycutters, "Blue Beside" On the Ropes  (Organic, 16)
- Jeremy Pinnell, "Joey" single  (Sofaburn, 21)  D

We're still looking at a drip-drip-drip approach to 2021 new release announcements, each one added to our obsessively updated Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster. This week Hailey Whitters announced she'd be sharing a special expanded edition of last year's The Dream. Landing on February 26, Living the Dream will offer the original record plus five new tracks. Three years since his previous full-length, Parker Millsap returns with Be Here Instead. On Okrahoma Records, the sessions will be released on April 9. Calla Lily is the name of the second proper full-length from the Brother Brothers. Watch for it April 16 courtesy of Compass Records. Finally, Allison Russell is one half of Birds of Chicago and one quarter of Our Native Daughters. She'll be bringing Outside Child on May 21. 

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:


Friday, January 15, 2021

BUCK MEEK - TWO SAViORS


ROUTES & BRANCHES  
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
January 10, 2021
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

Adrianne Lenker has one of my favorite voices. The primary writer and vocalist for Big Thief, she has also released some outstanding acoustic guitar-and-voice records. Even beyond those, however, my favorite Adrianne Lenker projects present her as artistic foil for Buck Meek, also a member of Big Thief. You'll find those warm, unpretentious sessions packaged by the Saddle Creek label as A-Sides and B-Sides, both released in 2014. 

Like Lenker, guitarist and vocalist Buck Meek pursues a solo lane as well, most recently with his 2018 self-titled collection. The side-hustle partners Meek's sweet but fractured voice with laid-back folk and country settings. Two Saviors (Keeled Scales), the singer-guitarist's second full-length follows suit, following Meek and his collaborators down to the corner of Royal and Desire in New Orleans.  

Recorded live to tape, these sessions demonstrate an immediacy and a purity that comes of talented friends sharing space. That cohort features producer Andrew Sarlo, who has worked previously with Big Thief and Courtney Marie Andrews among others. Brother Dylan Meek joins on keys, and multi-instrumentalist Mat Davidson from Twain is featured throughout. 

The free-flowing beauty of acoustic songs like "Two Moons" is woven like a rustic fabric, warmed by the sound of fingers on frets. The range of Buck Meek and his band is most evident in "Two Moons (morning)", where the same tune is revisited with a very different, jazz-tinged spirit, clopping percussion and murmured banter substituting for the careful acoustic artistry: Two moons rose today / And we slept until eight in the evening

Meek is an intuitive musician and lyricist, lending his work a psychedelic touch. His written reflections on his own work read like poetry. Songs like the soulful "Pareidolia" suggest images more than they tell stories: Maybe it's a baby / Maybe it's a cottonmouth swallowing its tail. The song's bubbling keys and pastoral vibe bring to mind Hiss Golden Messenger's earlier work. More than his self-titled solo debut, Two Saviors brings touches of country in singing pedal steel and even fiddle on the impressionistic "Pocketknife". 

While much of Saviors takes its time to unspool, Meek strikes a healthy balance with fuller pieces such as "Candle", a cowrite with Lenker. Heaven is a motel / With a telephone seashell, he keens atop pedal steel and comfortable backing vocals. "Cannonball Pt 2" adds a layer of electric fuzz. Throughout, Buck Meek's voice suits the proceedings perfectly, a creaky cousin to Phosphorescent's Matthew Houck or Tallest Man on Earth. Like Adrianne Lenker, Meek's delivery is unconventional but appealing, even on tunes like the off-kilter "Ham on White". 

It bears mentioning that neither Adrianne Lenker nor Buck Meek especially follow the Big Thief formula on their respective solo projects. When the quartet comes together as they have recently for some new recording here in Colorado, the bandmates demonstrate a musical telepathy, merging their talents for a larger, often darker sound that can spiral into a Crazy Horse-like squall. It's a beautiful noise, but one that's still informed by the lovely folk and country we hear on Two Saviors


- Adrianne Lenker, "Two Reverse" Songs  (4AD, 2020)
^ Buck Meek, "Candle" Two Saviors  (Keeled Scales, Jan 15)
- Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy, "Miracles (feat. Ty Segall)" single  (Drag City, 21)  D
- Duff Thompson, "Long Haul" Haywire  (Mashed Potato, 20)
- Cat Power, "Good Woman" You Are Free  (Matador, 03)
- Menahan Street Band, "Queens Highway" Exciting Sounds of  (Daptone, Feb 26)
- Brit Taylor, "Married Again" Real Me  (Cut a Shine, 20)
- Stuffy Shmitt, "She's Come Unglued" Stuff Happens  (Shmitt, 20)
- Bottle Rockets, "I Don't Wanna Know" South Broadway Athletic Club  (Bloodshot, 15)
- BJ Barham, "The Years" The Years: MusicFest Tribute to Cody Canada  (Right Ave, 21)
- Jeffrey Foucault, "Red Hard Thinking" Deadstock: Uncollected Recordings 2005-2020  (Foucault, 20)
- Weather Station, "Atlantic" Ignorance  (Fat Possum, Feb 5)
- Steve Earle, "Ain't Glad I'm Leaving" JT  (New West, 21)
- Sarah Borges & Broken Singles, "False Eyelashes" Diamonds in the Dark  (Sugar Hill, 07)
- Cody Jinks, "No Words (live)" Red Rocks Live  (Late August, 20)
- Have Gun Will Travel, "Now I Lay Me Down (demo)" Raw Materials: Home Demos  (Burke, 20)
- Langhorne Slim, "Colors" Strawberry Mansion  (Dualtone, Jan 29)
- Margo Price, "A Little Pain (live)" Perfectly Imperfect at the Ryman  (Loma Vista, 20)
- Bowerbirds, "Home Wrecker" Azaleas EP  (Psychic Hotline, 20)
- Nathaniel Rateliff, "A Song For You (live)" Willie Nelson American Outlaw  (Blackbird, 20)
- Vagabon, "Reason to Believe (feat. Courtney Barnett)" single  (Nonesuch, 21)  D
- Cory Branan, "There There Little Heartbreaker" Mutt  (Bloodshot, 12)
- Hold Steady, "Heavy Covenant" Open Door Policy  (Positive Jams, Feb 19)
- Charley Crockett, "I Can Help" single  (Next Waltz, 21)  D
- Pine Hill Haints, "Morning Star" 13  (Arkam, 20)  D
- Charles Ellsworth, "Laundromat" Honeysuckle Summer  (Burro Borracho, Mar 5)
- Shelby Lynne, "Wasting Away in LA" The Healing: A-Tone Recordings  (Extreme, 20)
- Tommy Alexander, "River Run Down" single  (Alexander, 21)  D
- Heather Valley, "Whip Poor Will" single  (Valley, 20)  D
- Big Thief, "Vegas" Masterpiece  (Saddle Creek, 16)  

New release announcements have starting picking up over just the last couple days, giving us stuff to add to A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster. In addition to the Pine Hill Haints' 13 that crawled over the finish line the last days of 2020, we hear that there's a new Lasers Lasers Birmingham EP due January 29. Two years after their satisfying Gold Past Life, Eric D Johnson's Fruit Bats have announced The Pet Parade. Their forthcoming full-length will appear March 5 via Merge. One-time drivers of Squirrel Nut Zippers, Jimbo Mathus and Andrew Bird are making sweet sounds of collaboration again. These 13 hits shelves on March 5 (Wegawam). And also on that same March 5, you can expect Maverick Thinker, the new project from William the Conqueror (Chrysalis). On March 19, country classic Loretta Lynn shares Still Woman Enough, a collaborative effort featuring Margo Price, Tanya Tucker and others. Finally, April will bring There Used To Be Horses Here, a session featuring Amy Speace backed by Neilson Hubbard's Orphan Brigade

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:


Monday, January 04, 2021

BiLL CALLAHAN & BONNiE PRiNCE BiLLY

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
January 3, 2021
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

Back in September, Bill Callahan released his Gold Record. It was the culmination of a process that apparently began with his 2019 double-LP, Shepherd in a Sheepskin Vest. In early Summer of 2020, Callahan began releasing a song every week leading up to the formal street date for his new project. 

Bonnie Prince Billy is no stranger himself to non-traditional release strategies. I don't know that a couple months haven't passed recently without a single or an EP of new music. Will Oldham is also a serial collaborator. Matter of fact, a trip to The Royal Stable will be enough to convince anyone that there are few more productive artists. 

Musical restlessness and rampant productivity are held in high esteem at R&B HQ. Since Fall, our ROUTES-casts have been regularly populated with a series of collaborative covers from Bill Callahan and Bonnie Prince Billy, featuring special guests. The songs are as wide-ranging as the artists themselves, idiosyncratic and traditional, alternately challenging and beautiful. No formal announcement has been made by the Drag City label to package the singles as one cohesive LP, though collecting them on a playlist reveals how well the diverse pieces play alongside one another. 

Of course, cover songs have not been hard to come by during the plague years. But the songs tagged by Callahan and Oldham aren't your average Radiohead or Nirvana covers. Please raise a hand, for instance, if you've been anticipating their take on Billie Eilish's "I Wish You Were Gay". What begins as a sweet acoustic recitation by Callahan is soon hijacked by a rubberband bass and Oldham's fractured delivery. With High Llamas' Sean O'Hagan along for the ride, it's a fully unexpected romp that is so left-of-center that it is charming if not just a bit funky. On another tip there is Hank Jr's "OD'd in Denver", featuring frequent BPB co-conspirator Matt Sweeney. The participants conjure a dark bass-heavy pall over the cautionary tale, all but disappearing the original's good natured country.

Perhaps the straightest take comes with Bill Callahan's faithful reading of Steely Dan's "Deacon Blues", featuring guitarist Bill MacKay. The singer's deep croon suits the song's languid and bittersweet groove, with MacKay's watery guitar departures casting a spell. See also the duo's presentation of Yusuf/Cat Steven's lesser known early gem "Blackness of the Night". The acoustic number showcases the perfection in the pairing of two untraditional voices, generating genuinely pretty harmonies. 

Positing Will Oldham's comfortably creaky keen alongside Bill Callahan's lowing croon, those moments when the voices twine serve as highlights of the series of singles. As Bonnie Prince Billy, Oldham has brought us plenty of earnest gospel music. The beauty of those harmonies shines brightest on the late Dave Rich's "I've Made Up My Mind", joined by Scottish folk musician Alasdair Roberts. You'll want to track down the duo's Bandcamp write-ups on these cuts, which testify to their perennially skewed perspective: Brother Callahan steps forward to testify at several key moments, and hands reach across the water all over the place, with the redolence of Gram and Emmylou, Richard and Linda, Shirley and Dolly, Bob and The Band, The Albion Country Band and all of their forebears, kith and kin stretching from here back to the horizon.  

More than anything, the most effective cover can be surprising and even fun, pointing out new qualities in both the artist and the song in question. With guitarist David Pajo, Callahan and Oldham's run through Jerry Jeff Walker's "I Love You" is as warm and lovely as the original, with added horns for good measure. And Meg Baird adds to a perfectly toned-down run through Little Feat's "I've Been the One". With other offerings that have been noisier and more avant-ly challenging, the spirit of the sessions is one of a loose musical camaraderie, a sandbox pairing of restless artists hoping for an outlet during times of separation and remove. Time will tell how long this release cycle continues, but we'll be following Bill Callahan, Bonnie Prince Billy and friends wherever their muse might lead them. 

- Steve Earle, "Saint of Lost Causes" JT  (New West, 21)
- Hailey Whitters, "Fillin' My Cup (feat. Little Big Town)" single  (Pigasus, 21)  D
- Sturgill Simpson, "Jesus Boogie" Cuttin' Grass Vol 2: Cowboy Arms Sessions  (High Top Mt, 20)
- Stuffy Schmitt, "It's OK" Stuff Happens  (Schmitt, 20)  D
- Cody Jinks, "Lifers (live)" Red Rocks Live  (Late August, 20)
- Michaela Anne, "If I Wanted Your Opinion" single  (Yep Roc, 20)  D
- Jeffrey Foucault, "There's a Destruction On This Land" Deadstock: Uncollected Recordings 2005-2020 (Foucault, 20)  D
- Kacy & Clayton and Marlon Williams, "I'm Gonna Break It" Plastic Bouquet  (New West, 20)
- Father John Misty, "I'm Writing a Novel" Fear Fun  (Sub Pop, 12)
- Aaron Lee Tasjan, "Feminine Walk" Tasjan! Tasjan! Tasjan!  (New West, Feb 5)
- Nathaniel Rateliff, "Redemption" single  (Stax, 20)  D
- Duff Thompson, "You're Pretty Good" Haywire  (Mashed Potato, 20)  D
- Have Gun Will Travel, "Paperback (demo)" Raw Materials: Home Demos  (Burke, 20)  D
- Langhorne Slim, "No Right Way" Strawberry Mansion  (Dualtone, Jan 29)
- Amanda Shires, "That's All" single  (Silver Knife, 21)  D
- Southern Culture on the Skids, "Midnight to Six" Kudzu Records Presents  (Kudzu, 20)
- Amigo the Devil, "Another Man's Grave" Born Against  (Liars Club, Apr 16)  D
- Prison Book Club, "White Plain" Prison Book Club  (Emperor, 18)
- Scott H Biram, "Can't Stay Long" Fever Dreams  (Bloodshot, 20)
- Bowerbirds, "Thrift Store" Endless Chase: 2020 Singles  (Psychic Hotline, 20)  D
- Adam Selzer, "Better Than You Know" Slow Decay  (Jealous Butcher, 20)
- Courtney Marie Andrews, "America (feat. Molly Sarle & Liz Cooper)" single  (Fat Possum, 20)  D
^ Bill Callahan & Bonnie Prince Billy, "Rooftop Garden (feat. George Xylouris)" single  (Drag City, 21)  D
- Ryan Adams, "I'm Sorry and I Love You" Wednesdays  (PaxAm, 20)
- Ward Davis, "Book of Matches" Black Cats & Crows  (Davis, 20)
- Charles Ellsworth, "Blessed" Honeysuckle Summer  (Burro Borracho, Mar 5) 
- Neal Casal, "Green Moon" single  (Casal, 20)
- James Steinle, "Cold German Mornings" Cold German Mornings  (Steinle, 20)
- Reed Turchi, "I've Chosen Love" I've Chosen Love  (Nine Mile, Feb 19)  D
- Andrew Bryant, "Dear Momma" single  (Magnolia State, 20)  D


We expect to return to our usual run-down of release announcements next Episode. Between you 'n me, there ain't been too many recently. To catch up, you'll want to explore A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster, which will get you set for what to expect in the weeks to come, as well as filling in any unfortunate holes in your 2020 collection. 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: