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Monday, April 21, 2014

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
April 19, 2014
Scott Foley

Nickel Creek was on Fallon the other night, playing "Destination", one of the stronger songs of the year to date.  Fallon introduced them saying the trio was celebrating 25 years together.  Truth be told, I wasn't even aware they were too far into their 20s ...  Sarah Watkins, Chris Thile and Sean Watkins have, by now, well outgrown the bluegrass boundaries that held them earlier in their career.  Track the video down and you'll see Sarah's skills as a pop lyricist and singer, as well as Thile's musicianship and charisma, not to mention the tremendous harmonies developed over the group's quarter century.  Really?  A quarter century ... ?

Anyhow, we're really here today to celebrate a budding romance between a man (me) and an album (NQ Arbuckle's The Future Happens Anyway).  To be honest, I'd mostly just glanced the Canadian quintet from across the room, aware of them but never committing to more than a passing flirt.  Sure, I spent some time with their '09 collaboration with the great Carolyn Mark, but let's be honest.  I wast just using NQ Arbuckle to get to Carolyn.  When Six Shooter formally introduced us five years later, my first step was to check out the track dedicated to Ms Mark.  As I let the album spin, however, there was something in the remaining cuts that reminded me a bit of early Richard Buckner, crossed with the gruffness of Jon Dee Graham and lightly seasoned with Lambchop (yeah, she wasn't real pretty, but she talked a good game):  I spark just like a sweater taken off in the dark ... Everything and nothing are the same thing in different lights ...  I never wish for anything / But I always get what's coming ...  I bet you're tired of waking up in hospitals ...  It's the best of bar band abandon, peppered with more calculated with and lyrical smarts.  If things go as planned in this relationship, I'll get my heart broken every time we meet.  


*  John Fullbright, "Happy"  Songs  (Blue Dirt, 14)
*  Old 97s, "Wish the Worst"  Hitchhike to Rhome  (Big Iron, 94)
*  Arc Iris, "Ditch"  Arc Iris  (Self, 14)
*  Langhorne Slim, "Got My Mind Made Up"  Bob Dylan in the 80s  (ATO, 14)
*  Secret Sisters, "Dirty Lie"  Put Your Needle Down  (Republic, 14)
*  Hip Hatchet, "Misdirected Man"  Joy and Better Days  (Gravitation, 12)
*  Chuck Mead, "Sittin' On Top of the Bottom"  Free State Serenade  (Plowboy, 14)
*  Nikki Lane, "Seein' Double"  All or Nothin'  (New West, 14)
*  Dave & Phil Alvin, "You've Changed"  Common Ground  (Yep Roc, 14)
*  Rosanne Cash, "Biloxi"  River & the Thread Expanded  (Blue Note, 14)
*  John Howie Jr & Rosewood Bluff, "A Hell of a Note"  Everything Except Goodbye  (Self, 14)  D
*  Son Volt, "Down To the Wire"  American Central Dust  (Rounder, 09)
*  Dinero, "Boogie Woogie on the Backs of the Working Poor"  Blind Owl  (Self, 14)  C, D
*  Gaslight Anthem, "American Slang"  American Slang  (SideOneDummy, 10)
*  Hackensaw Boys, "Gospel Plow"  Look Out  (Nettwerk, 07)
*  Sturgill Simpson, "A Little Light"  Metamodern Sounds in Country Music  (High Top Mt, 14)
*  Cheryl Wheeler, "Arrow"  Circles & Arrows  (Philo, 95)
*  Josh Nolan, "Waitin' On the Night"  Fair City Lights  (Self, 14)
*  Memorial Electric Co, "Arm In Arm"  Farewell Transmission  (Rock the Cause, 14)  D
*  Jason Molina & Will Johnson, "Almost Let You In"  Molina & Johnson  (Secretly Canadian, 09)
*  Centro-Matic, "Salty Disciple"  Take Pride In Your Long Odds  (Undertow, 14)  D
*  Felice Brothers, "Cherry Licorice"  Favorite Waitress  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Miss Shevaughn & Yuma Wray, "Election Year Blues"  Lean Into the Wind  (7 Dead Arson, 14)
*  Spirit Family Reunion, "I Want To Be Relieved"  No Separation  (Self, 12)
*  Brigitte DeMeyer, "Big Man's Shoes"  Savannah Road  (Self, 14)
^  NQ Arbuckle, "Rotary Phone"  The Future Happens Anyway  (Six Shooter, 14)  D
*  Bobby Bare Jr, "Don't Wanna Know"  Undefeated  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Susan Cowsill, "Just Believe It"  Just Believe It  (Blue Rose, 04)
*  Nickel Creek, "Destination"  A Dotted Line  (Sugar Hill, 14)

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