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Saturday, February 02, 2013

ROUTES & BRANCHES
February 2, 2013
Scott Foley

I like all kinds of music.  Whereas I call Routes & Branches "the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music" I call my other KRFC show, Thursday Morning Mix, "everything else".  I'm as likely to find great worth in R&B stuff as I am to tear up during Sinatra's "Fly Me to the Moon", Rainbow's "Stargazer" or Hansen's "MMMBop".  You'll have to take my word for it. 

I've said previously on R&B that I'm allergic to bluegrass, but this isn't entirely accurate.  I like my music hyphenated, so the bluegrass I enjoy tends to be hybridized.  Consider the speed-grass of Trampled By Turtles or the jam-grass of Greensky Bluegrass.  I've also found myself gravitating more towards variations on country music in the past several months.  Call it alt.country or underground country or insurgent country, it's increasingly a part of my lineup. 

Which brings us to John Driskell Hopkins and Balsam Range's new collaboration, Daylight.  Hopkins was a founding member of Zac Brown's band, and Balsam Range is an established North Carolina bluegrass act.  Together they make music that's both country and grass, while being pure expressions of neither.  There are banjo rolls and mando scratches throughout, as well as guest spots from genre stalwarts like Jerry Douglas and Tony Trischka.  There are equal elements of country in Hopkins' outlaw growl and songwriting approach, along with the presence of Joey + Rory and Zac Brown himself.  Purists may scoff (as purists are wont to do), but the results are enough to satisfy the lover of hyphens in me. 

Also in the underground country vein is Chris King's 1983, which I mentioned last week.  From San Antonio, King's facebook page wraps up his mission thusly:  "Sometimes I write country songs.  Most of the time I don't".  Satisfies me.  He lists as his influences Elvis Presley, Roger Miller, Old 97's, Avett Brothers, and Loretta Lynn.  The best thing about King's music is that he seems neither to be wholly embracing nor running away from any particular impression of what he should be.  He's simply a good songwriter whose music seems honest. 

 ... and a completely different take on country comes from Pine Valley Cosmonauts and their special guest Roger Knox.  Called the Black Elvis in Australia, Knox and PVC shine a light on the heretofore unknown intersection of country with Australian indigenous ("aboriginal") culture.   This wholly unique album also boasts contributions from Kelly Hogan, Sadies, Dave Alvin and more. 

*  Cary Ann Heart & Michael Trent, "Gasoline"  Shovels & Rope  (Our House, 08)
*  Lilly Hiatt, "Three Days"  Let Down  (Normaltown, 12)
*  Roger Knox & the Pine Valley Cosmonauts, "Ticket To Nowhere"  Stranger In My Land  (Bloodshot, 13)
*  Old 97s, "Beer Cans"  Too Far To Care (Anniversary Ed)  (New West, 12)
*  Langhorne Slim, "Way We Move"  Way We Move  (Ramseur, 12)
*  Holly Williams, "Drinkin"  Highway  (Georgiana, 13) 
*  PrettyMouth, "Devil You Know"  Satan In Clothes  (Self, 12)
*  Robyn Ludwick, "Out Of These Blues"  Out Of These Blues  (Late Show, 11)
*  Arliss Nancy, "Rodeo"  Tour EP  (Cats? Aye!, 13)   D
*  Mary Gauthier, "Sugar Cane (live)"  Live At Blue Rock  (Self, 13)
*  Kasey Anderson, "Exit Ghost"  Heart of a Dog  (Red River, 11)
*  Larry & His Flask, "Closed Doors"  Hobo's Lament  (Self, 12)
*  Kelly Willis & Bruce Robison, "Long Way Home"  Cheater's Game  (Premium, 13)
*  Chris King, "Man Enough"  1983  (Classic Horse, 13)
*  Joey Kneiser, "Goodbye Iris"  Moonlight For the Graveyard Heart  (This is Amer Music, 13)
*  Secret Country, "Night of Whiskey"  From the Barroom To the Bedroom  (Killing Horse, 13)
*  Steve Earle, "All My Life"  Transcendental Blues  (Artemis, 00)
*  Kathleen Braun, "I'm Coming Home (live)"  Undone  (Right Ave, 08)
*  Brett Detar, "Soldier's Burden"  internet single  (Self, 13)
*  Quiet American, "Apple In the Fall"  Wild Bill Jones  (Self, 13)   D
*  Whiskeytown, "Don't Wanna Know Why"  Pneumonia  (Lost Hwy, 01)
*  Leftover Salmon, "Walking Shoes (live)"  Live From the Georgia Theater  (Self, 12)
^  John Driskell Hopkins & Balsam Range, "I Will Lay Me Down"  Daylight  (Self, 13)   D
*  Anders & Kendall, "We're On Fire Babe"  Wild Chorus  (Nine Mile, 13)   D
*  Dale Watson, "Lord I'm Proud"  Dalevis  (Self, 13)   D
*  Justin Townes Earle, "Unfortunately Anna"  Nothing's Gonna Change ...  (Bloodshot, 12)
*  Gurf Morlix, "Gasoline"  Finds the Present Tense  (Rootball, 13)   D

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