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Tuesday, February 21, 2012

ROUTES & BRANCHES
February 18, 2012
Scott Foley

I could go off on at least a couple new releases for this week's Episode.  The Best Lyric Ever this week hails from Portland's Drunken Prayer, who promises, "When you get to heaven / God gives you balloons / You lost when you were alive".  Also great to provide a radio home for Otis Gibbs' new album, which takes a decided turn from his typical union-rallying social justice theme.  Locally, Bad Weather California sound like nothing else happening right now, weaving together aspects of sun-bleached country, indie rock and garage psychedelia for an album that I've returned to a couple times already.

Nevertheless, I'll save this Episode's  prime real estate for the return of Lucero, who continue their great experiment toward listenability begun two albums ago.  Horns and keys aside, Ben Nichols has become an excellent writer, a master in his mythology of late night bars, inescapable hometowns and dead end girlfriends.  Lucero have also become on of the tighter alt.country bands, tempered by seemingly nonstop touring.  While I'll always harbor a soft spot for the bombast and edge of the band's early material, they've taken impressive steps towards the dreaded "M" word (maturity!) with every album since 2006's Rebels Rogues & Sworn Brothers.  Despite the fact that iTunes still files them under Latin ...

*  Yawpers, "Heart On a String"  Savage Blue  (Self, 12)
*  Audra Mae, "Smokin' the Boys"  Audra Mae & the Almighty Sound  (SideOne, 12)
*  Dave Alvin, "New Highway"  Blackjack David  (Hightone, 98)
*  Israel Nash Gripka, "Drown"  Barn Doors & Concrete Floors  (Self, 11)
*  Justin Townes Earle, "Look the Other Way"  Nothing's Gonna Change  (Bloodshot, 12)
*  Drunken Prayer, "Balloons"  Into the Missionfield  (Fluff & Gravy, 12)
*  Willie Nelson, "Scientists"  internet single  (Chipotle, 12)
*  Jon Statz, "Old Old Fashioned"  Old Fashioned  (Yer Bird, 12)
*  Delta Spirit, "Idaho"  Delta Spirit  (Rounder, 12)
*  Stillhouse, "To Be Denied"  Through the Winter  (Self, 06)
*  Jeff Black, "Plow Through the Mystic"  Plow Through the Mystic  (Lotos Nile, 12)
*  Sam Lewis, "Southern Greek Tragedy"  Sam Lewis  (Self, 12)
*  Tom Gillam, "Good Feelin' To Know"  Rustic Beauty  (Self, 12)
*  Farrar Johnson Parker Yames, "Hoping Machine"  New Multitudes  (Rounder, 12)
^  Lucero, "On My Way Downtown"  Women & Work  (ATO, 12)
*  Bad Weather California, "Stand In My Sunshine"  Sunkissed  (Family Tree, 12)
*  Rosie Flores, "Love and Danger"  Bandera Highway  (Hightone, 04)
*  James Low Western Front, "Sleeping It Off"  Whiskey Farmer  (Union Made, 12)
*  Have Gun Will Travel, "Kerosene & Candlelight"  Mergers & Acquisitions  (Suburban Home, 11)
*  Rodney Crowell, "That Old Time Feeling"  This One's For Him  (Icehouse, 12)
*  Otis Gibbs, "Christ Number Three"  Harder Than Hammered Hell  (Wanamaker, 12)
*  Nanci Griffith, "Hell No (I'm Not Alright)"  Intersection  (Partisan, 12)
*  Lone Justice, "Don't Toss Us Away"  Lone Justice  (Geffen, 85)
*  Jon Byrd, "In a Chest Of Skin and Bone"  Down At the Well of Wishes  (Longleaf Pine, 12)
*  Heartless Bastards, "Skin and Bone"  Arrow  (Partisan, 12)
*  Far West, "Best Company Misery Ever Had"  Far West  (Wooden Tapes, 11)

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