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Sunday, March 25, 2012

ROUTES & BRANCHES
March 24, 2012
Scott Foley

2010's year-end favorite songs list featured some great stuff, not the least of which was Trampled By Turtles' epic "Wait So Long", fiddle and banjo chugging along at a breakneck pace, daring the listener to hang on for the ride.  The Minnesota boys' new Stars and Satellites album steps back from this sort of rave-up for the most part, but still deserves to be TBTs' Avetts or Mumfords moment.  Taken as a whole, it's a much more mature effort, featuring soul-searching songwriting and relatively restrained playing behind almost melancholy lyrics.  The band's harmonies are polished to a beautiful precision as well.  All of which is impressive for an album recorded all but live in a remote Minnesota cabin.  Concertgoers will still leave their seats for the "Wait So Long" and "Think It Over" moments, but more introspective tunes like "Alone" and "Widower's Heart" deserve at least as much response.  Trampled By Turtles have established themselves as something more than "that speed grass band". 

Also this week, former Mammals Mike & Ruthy return with a surprisingly varied EP,
 including their take on an incomplete Woody Guthrie lyric.  Bad Livers cofounder Mark Rubin returns with his sharp new Atomic Duo project, heralding back to a time when political music was clever, angry and eloquent.  And the Mastersons, touring members of Steve Earle's Dukes & Duchesses, step into the limelight with a strong first effort that might bring to mind other pairs like Buddy & Julie or even John & Exene. 


*  Yawpers, "Heart On a String"  Savage Blue  (Adventure, 12)
*  Martin Zellar, "Give & Take"  Roosters Crow  (Owen Lee, 12)
*  Will Hoge, "Nothing To Lose"  Number Seven  (Ryko, 11)
*  Parlor Soldiers, "Long Gone"  When the Dust Settles  (Self, 12)
*  Katya Chorover, "Possession"  Big Big Love  (Cat and the Moon, 11)
*  Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, "Ain't No Answer"  Wasted  (Tone Tide, 12)
*  Whiskeytown, "Drank Like a River"  Faithless Street  (Outpost, 96)
*  Neko Case, "Nothing To Remember"  Hunger Games  (Republic, 12)
*  Atomic Duo, "Texas City"  Broadsides  (Self, 12)
*  Danny Barnes, "Low"  Rocket  (ATO, 11)
*  Stacey Earle & Mark Stuart, "Little Rock"  Dedication  (Gearle, 12)
*  Andre Williams & the Sadies, "I'll Do Most Anything For You"  Night & Day  (Yep Roc, 12)
*  Waco Brothers, "Do You Think About Me"  Do You Think About Me  (Bloodshot, 97)
*  Julie Lee, "Unto the Hills"  Julie Lee & the Baby Daddies  (Self, 12)
*  Wrinkle Neck Mules, "Leaving Chattanooga"  Apprentice to Ghosts  (Lower 40, 12)
*  Snake Wagon, "You Had To Be There Talkin' Blues"  Have Fun With Snake Wagon  (Self, 11)
*  Mama Lenny & the Remedy, "Not a Girl To Keep"  Punches & Hugs  (Self, 12)
*  Yarn, "Fussin' and Fightin'"  Almost Home  (Self, 12)
*  Lyle Lovett, "Keep It Clean"  Release Me  (Lost Hwy, 12)
*  Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Coricidin Bottle"  Grifter's Hymnal  (Bordello, 12)
*  Over the Rhine, "If a Song Could Be President"  Trumpet Child  (Speckled Dog, 07)
*  Sons Of Bill, "Turn It Up"  Sirens  (Self, 12)
*  Mastersons, "You Don't Know"  Birds Fly South  (New West, 12)
*  Bottle Rockets, "Come On"  Brown Eyed Handsome Man  (Undertow, 05)
*  Rhett Miller, "Out of Love"  The Dreamer  (Maximum Sunshine, 12)
^  Trampled By Turtles, "Walt Whitman"  Stars & Satellites  (Banjodad, 12)
*  Lee Bains III & the Glory Fires, "Reba"  There Is a Bomb In Gilead  (Alive NS, 12)
*  White Buffalo, "BB Guns & Dirt Bikes"  Once Upon a Time In the West  (Unison, 12)
*  Screen Door Porch, "Right Down To It"  Fate & the Fruit  (Self, 12)
*  Mike & Ruthy, "Toast My Memory"  NYC EP  (Humble Abode, 12)

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