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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

ROUTES & BRANCHES  
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music 
April 6, 2013
Scott Foley

It was tremendous to see such a strong response to KRFC's 10th Annual Birthday Bash Saturday evening.  Sure, the music was cool and the food was unreal (please, try the scallop kabobs), but the night was made all the more memorable by all the folks who approached me to tell me how much they valued my shows.  A great community!

There are a couple coworkers who badger me about the frequency with which I declare something as among my favorites.  My response to this is tempered with regards to one of those individuals who claims he hasn't heard a good CD since Emerson Lake & Palmer closed their mighty doors for business.  In my defense, I would estimate that I preview more than a dozen CDs every week, listening to most from the first to last note.  You mathematical types might extrapolate that this equates to no fewer than 50 albums per month and over 250 per year.  So I think I'm entitled declare at least a couple albums per month The Best Thing Ever.  

This week's Best Thing Ever hails from Sturgill Simpson, previously the frontman for Sunday Valley.  With the band, Simpson skewed things in more of an electric direction, earning a good amount of critical praise before departures took a toll on the band.  With this new band, his attention has turned towards a genuine country sound.  In the Saving Country Music blog, Simpson is quoted thusly:  "I am attempting to make what I believe to be the purest, most uncompromising Hard Country album anyone has heard in 30 years.  And it will be an effort to revitalize the neo-traditional movement spearheaded by two of my idols and fellow Kentuckians (Skaggs & Whitley) back in the 80′s."  It certainly doesn't weaken this commitment that High Top Mountain finds him fronting a dream band featuring vets like Hargus "Pig" Robbins and Robby Turner.  There is certainly a purity to these tunes, all but 2 originals, boasting such a classic country sound that it seems unnecessary to compromise by calling it "hard" "outlaw" or "alt" country. 

I admit that it's rare that an album "grows" on me.  Typically, I fall for something immediately, and that sentiment either waxes or wanes with repeated spins.  Would it be premature to declare Sturgill Simpson's solo debut one of the most important country albums in years?  Probably, yes.  Having said that, I've reserved a spot on my year-end favorites list for High Top Mountain.  Mock me at your own risk!


*  Fifth on the Floor w/Rachel Brooke, "Wine"  Ashes & Angels  (Self, 13)
*  Trubelos, "It Hurt So Bad"  Boomerang Girl  (Self, 13)   C
*  Elliott BROOD, "Valley Town"  Mountain Meadows  (Six Shooter, 09)
*  Great Peacock, "Take Me To the Mountain"  Great Peacock  (This Is Amer Music, 13)  D
*  Lori McKenna, "Salt"  Massachusetts  (Self, 13)   D
*  Hackensaw Boys, "Radio (live)"  For the Love of a Friend  (Self, 13)  D
*  Carmelita's Lovers, "Nothing"  Ghosts of Our Former Selves  (Nething, 13)   C
*  Davidson Hart Kingsbery, "2 Horses"  2 Horses  (Fin, 13)
*   Jakob Dylan, "Ain't Got No Home (live)"  Love For Levon  (TimeLife, 13)   D
*  Left Arm Tan, "Omaha"  Alticana  (Self, 13)
*  Sara Petite, "Ashes"  Circus Comes To Town  (Self, 13)   D
*  Dead Reckoners, "Always Will"  Night of Reckoning  (Dead Reckoning, 96)
*  Shannon McNally, "I Spent All My Money"  Small Town Talk  (Sacred Sumac, 13)   D
*  Chris King, "Goodbyes and What You Leave Behind"  1983  (Classic Horse, 13)
^  Sturgill Simpson, "Life Ain't Fair and the World Is Mean"  High Top Mountain  (Thirty Tigers, 13)  D
*  Caitlin Rose, "Menagerie"  Stand-In  (ATO, 13)
*  Patty Griffin, "Ohio"  American Kid  (New West, 13)
*  Thom Chacon, "Ain't Gonna Take Us Alive"  Thom Chacon  (Pie, 13)   D, C
*  Gram Parsons, "Love Hurts"  Grievous Angel  (Reprise, 74)
*  Kill County, "Brownlee"  Dust In Wire  (Self, 13)
*  Woody Pines, "Like I Do"  Rabbits' Motel  (Self, 13)  D
*  Old Crow Medicine Show, "Back Home Again"  Music Is You: Tribute to John Denver  (ATO, 13)
*  Kim Richey, "Come On"  Thorn In My Heart  (Yep Roc, 13)  D
*  Deadstring Brothers, "Oh Me Oh My"  Cannery Row  (Bloodshot, 13)
*  Kacey Musgraves, "Blowing Smoke"  Same Trailer Different Park  (Mercury, 13)
*  Jason & the Scorchers, "I Really Don't Want To Know"  Lost & Found  (Mammoth, 85)
*  Nora Jane Struthers, "Party Line"  Carnival  (Blue Pig, 13)   D

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