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Friday, July 08, 2011

July 7, 2011
Scott Foley

The last couple weeks have gifted us with a handful of strong Colorado releases in a year that could use a couple more. New stuff on this Episode from The Patti Fiasco, Paper Bird, Hickman-Dalton Gang and Bonnie & the Beard.

Appropriately, there is nobody named "Bonnie" in that group, and only one member sports a beard of any note. What the trio does have is an original sound that mixes gritty blues, indie rock and a certain gypsy/circus spirit.

In the midst of their respective busy careers, Johnny Hickman and Jim Dalton has managed to issue Vol 2 of their recorded collaboration. Dalton presently serves as guitarist for Roger Clyne & the Peacemakers, and is still a cardholding Railbender, while Hickman is most notably a founder of Cracker, along with several solo and side-projects. Vol 2 demonstrates a more rowdy, upbeat spirit in comparison with their debut recording. Especially classy (and representative) is "Let's Toke the Whole Day Off".

Paper Bird's new album is a concert recording of a song cycle written for a Colorado Ballet Company. To their credit, the music stands alone without the presence of the dancers, expanding the band's influences from folk to world and classical music. Paper Bird has always been driven by the group's original multi-layered vocal mix, but their new effort is equally impressive as an instrumental statement.

Finally, the Patti Fiasco's self-titled full-length arrives as one of the strongest Colorado albums of 2011 for our kind of music. Alysia Kraft is a stellar frontperson, and has established herself as a terrific songsmith. Like this Episode's other recordings, it's not simply good Colorado music, it's good music, period.

* Ryan Bingham, "Bread & Water" Mescalito (Lost Hwy, 07)
* Gary Nicholson, "Fallin' & Flyin'" Texas Songbook (Bismeaux, 11)
* Robert Ellis, "Friends Like These" Photographs (New West, 11)
^ Patti Fiasco, "Nobody's Girl" Patti Fiasco (Self, 11)
* Chuck Ragan, "For Goodness Sake" Gold Country (Side One Dummy, 09)
* Jolie Holland, "All Those Girls" Pinto of Blood (Anti, 11)
* Rod Picott, "Sheetrock Hanger" Welding Burns (Welding Rod, 11)
* Eilen Jewell, "Queen of the Minor Key" Queen of the Minor Key (Signature Sounds, 11)
* Paper Bird, "Dear Friend" Carry On (Long Spoon, 11)
* Old 97s, "Brown Haired Daughter" Grand Theatre Vol 2 (New West, 11)
* Matt Bauer, "Morning Stars" Jessamine County Book of the Living (Crossbill, 11)
* John Hiatt, "Train To Birmingham" Dirty Jeans and Mudslide Hymns (New West, 11)
* Amanda Shires, "Kudzu" Carrying Lightning (Self, 11)
* Catherine MacLellan, "Old tin Can" Silhouette (True North, 11)
* Hadden Sayers, "Take Me Back To Texas" Hard Dollar (Blue Corn, 11)
* Cody Canada & the Departed, "If You're Ever In Oklahoma" This Is Indian Land (30 Tigers, 11)
* Hickman Dalton Gang, "(Come Back To) Stockton" Hickman Dalton Gang Vol 2 (Self, 11)
* Kasey Chambers, "Sweetest Waste of Time" Rattlin' Bones (Sugar Hill, 08)
* JD Malone & the Experts, "Silver From" Avalon (It's About Music, 11)
* JD McPherson, "Scratching Circles" Signs & Signifiers (Self, 11)
* Dave Alvin, "What's Up With Your Brother" Eleven Eleven (Yep Roc, 11)
* John Howie Jr & Rosewood Bluff, "Trying Not To Think" Leavin' Yesterday (Hands Up, 11)
* Frank Turner, "Peggy Sang the Blues" England Keep My Bones (Epitaph, 11)
* Bonnie & the Beard, "Lonely Hills" Bonnie & the Beard (Self, 11)
* John Doe & the Sadies, "I Still Miss Someone" Country Club (Yep Roc, 09)
* Jackrabbit, "Falling Is Mine" Jackrabbit (Self, 11)
* Matt the Electrician, "Pioneer Bride" Accidental Thief (Self, 11)
* Angela Easterling, "Fish & the Bird" Beguiled (De l'Est, 11)
* Dawes, "Million Dollar Bill" Nothing Is Wrong (ATO, 11)

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