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Monday, June 16, 2014

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country & roots music
June 14, 2014
Scott Foley

I dunno.  Maybe it just takes me longer to come around to something as good as Fire Mountain's All Dies Down.  I have to admit that I was surprised with the bloggers who were so quick with their praise for the latest from Corey Flegel and his This is American Music label. My own musical proclivities typically draw me towards music that is noisy, a bit messy and frayed at the edges.  It's part of what I appreciate about acts like Centro-Matic or Heartless Bastards.  From Troy, Alabama, Fire Mountain's debut full-length comes across as real clean, boasting a big, full sound with strong melodic turns and even the occasional synth.  Some of the songs recalled Whiskeytown's Stranger's Almanac:  certainly a classic record, but such a different beast compared to that act's humble beginnings.  Don't get me wrong, songs like "Doing Fine" and the opener, "Be Your Eyes" caught me right away.  Frontguy Perry Brown is a more than capable vocalist.  His Jason Isbell-esque soul serves as the music's most obvious connection to the Southern soil from which Fire Mountain springs.  It's just that some of the bloggers who featured All Dies Down are more likely to err on the side of the messy and dirt-caked.  With repeated listens, however, I developed an increased appreciation for the straightforward songs, the lack of pretense, and the rootsy elements still present beneath the sheen.  Heck, even if a friend responded to one tune with, "Is this Bryan Adams?" a song like "Wired and Dying" is simply classic alt.country.  Think Ryan, rather than Bryan.  This is American Music reportedly picked up Fire Mountain in the wake of a Kickstarter campaign that fell short of the band's goal.  I should know better than to question TIAM by now, one of the most reliable little labels in our kind of music.  As their website boasts, "Nobody gives a bigger shit than us." 

I vacillated a bit with regards to what to write about this week.  I'd still like to give some quality blogtime to Colorado's Gun Street Ghost, whose self titled sophomore release has provided me with some remarkably diverse listening of late.  Trampled by Turtles continues to mature in admirable directions while still honoring their speedgrass roots.  I've also flirted shamelessly with providing some reflection about the strongest release in years from Will Johnson and Centro-Matic.  And this week's biggest news stoked a fanboy fire in my heart for a double CD of live Lucero for August. 



*  Gurf Morlix, "Clay Pigeons"  Blaze Foley's 113th Wet Dream  (Rootball, 10)
*  Zoe Muth, "Little Piece of History"  World of Strangers  (Signature Sounds, 14)
*  John Howie Jr & Rosewood Bluff, "Why You Been Gone So Long"  Everything Except Goodbye  (Self, 14)
*  Willie Nelson w/Jamey Johnson, "The Git Go"  Band of Brothers  (Legacy, 14)  D
*  Gun Street Ghost, "Why We Drink"  Gun Street Ghost  (Self, 14)  C
*  Jolie Holland, "All the Love"  Wine Dark Sea  (Anti, 14)
*  Heartless Bastards, "Done Got Old"  Stairs & Elevators  (Fat Possum, 05)
*  Rodney  Crowell, "Jesus Talk To Mama"  Tarpaper Sky  (New West, 14)
*  Corb Lund, "Counterfeiters' Blues"  Counterfeiters' Blues  (New West, 14)  D
*  Centro-Matic, "Cross Paths"  Take Pride In Your Long Odds  (Self, 14)
*  Ryan Adams, "Rescue Blues"  Gold  (Lost Hwy, 01)
*  Secret Sisters, "Iuka"  Put Your Needle Down  (Republic, 14)
*  First Aid Kit, "Heaven Knows"  Stay Gold  (Columbia, 14)
*  Donkeys, "Sunny Daze"  Ride the Black Wave  (Easy Sound, 14)  D
*  Dave & Phil Alvin, "Saturday Night Rub"  Common Ground  (Yep Roc, 14)
*  JC Brooks & Uptown Sound, "I Am Trying To Break Your Heart"  Want More  (Bloodshot, 11)
*  Lucero, "Tears Don't Matter Much (live)"  Live From Atlanta  (Liberty & Lament, 14)  D
*  Jon Snodgrass, "Long Way Found"  Visitor's Band  (Suburban Home, 09)  C
*  Hiss Golden Messenger, "Brother Do You Know the Road"  single  (Merge, 14)
*  Fire Mountain, "Wired and Dying"  All Dies Down  (This Is American Music, 14)
*  Joseph LeMay, "Seventeen Acres"  Seventeen Acres  (Self, 14)
*  John Fullbright, "Happy"  Songs  (Blue Dirt, 14)
*  Trampled By Turtles, "Come Back Home"  Wild Animals  (Banjodad, 14)  D
*  American Aquarium, "Bones"  Bones  (Self, 08)
*  Eric Lindell, "Sentimental Lover"  West County Drifter  (MC, 11)
*  Far West, "Leonard"  Any Day Now  (Medina River, 14)

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