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Sunday, August 03, 2014

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
August 2, 2014
Scott Foley

Artists can spend so much money making sure their records sound polished and "professional", when sometimes all we really want is a load of noise coming from the garage.  About halfway thru this Episode, I indulged that need, scratched that nasty itch, and took us on a refreshing trip off the rails, highlighted by a noisy, distorted cut from Benjamin Booker.  I knew Booker was my man as soon as I launched into the first track of his debut and realized that I had no idea of the lyrics he was spitting.  From New Orleans, the 24 year old cites Gun Club, T Rex and Blind Willie Johnson among his influences - my initial take planted him in an unkempt garden between early Shane McGowan and Thin Lizzy's Phil Lynott.  As a guitarist, he seemingly plays with his knuckles, rattling away with a Chuck Berry riff on "Violent Shiver", or exploding into pure, unrecognizable (lovely) distortion on cuts like "Chipewa" or "Have You Seen My Son" (not to mention that unholy howl of a voice).  Most impressively, he is one of the few artists since Violent Femmes who cut a rare line between gospel and punk.  Listen to the guitar jangle of "Always Waiting" or the hymnlike organ of "Slow Coming", above the refrain, "Honestly, I cannot be bothered / To tell you the truth, I ain't been sleepin' too well ..."  ATO Records reportedly signed Booker on site after a legend-making performance at Newport Folk Festival, and I'm sure ATO wasn't the only label in line that evening.  I'm beginning to realize that space on the Benjamin Booker bandwagon is quickly filling, so jump on before it's too late. 



In other news:  Matt Hillyer is best known as the frontman for Eleven Hundred Springs, a perfectly fine band that I play a couple times per year.  My expectations for his first solo album (produced by Lloyd Maines) were about level with those for my daily lunch salad:  I'm glad to have it, but I don't expect to be knocked over by its greatness.  This is a long way to go to say that Hillyer's new songs did take me by surprise, shot through with good humor and wordplay, and slathered with a healthy dressing of Lloyd Maines.  Also, I'm pleased to say that I'll be joined in the studio next week by Drew Kennedy, who will debut his brand new double live CD, as well as playing a bit for us.  


*  Chuck Prophet, "Ford Econoline"  Night Surfer  (Yep Roc, 14)
*  Parker Millsap, "Truck Stop Gospel"  Parker Millsap  (Okrahoma, 14)
*  Robyn Ludwick, "Somethin' Good"  Little Rain  (Late Show, 14)
*  Drew Kenendy, "Rose of Jericho"  Wide Listener  (Self, 13)
*  Otis Gibbs, "Darker Side of Me"  Souvenirs of a Misspent Youth  (Wanamaker, 14)
*  Caleb Caudle, "Another Night"  Paint Another Layer On My Heart  (This is American Music, 14)
*  Joe Purdy, "That Diamond Ring"  Eagle Rock Fire  (Mud Town Crier, 14)
*  Micky & the Motorcars, "Hearts From Above"  Hearts From Above  (Self, 14)  D
*  Robert Ellis, "Good Intentions"  Lights From the Chemical Plant  (New West, 14)
*  Sassparilla, "What the Devil Don't Know"  Pasajero/Hullabaloo  (Fluff & Gravy, 14)
*  Matt Hillyer, "I Still Have a Little Falling Left To Go"  If These Old Bones Could Talk  (Run Up Tree, 14)  D
*  Jim Lauderdale, "I Lost You"  I'm a Song  (Sky Crunch, 14)
*  Gram Parsons, "Love Hurts"  Grievous Angel  (Reprise, 74)
*  Puss N Boots, "Don't Know What It Means"  No Fools No Fun  (Blue Note, 14)
*  Sarah Borges, "Mind On Me"  Radio Sweetheart  (Lonesome Day, 14)
*  Goodnight Texas, "Button Your Collar"  Uncle John Farquhar  (Self, 14)
*  Ben Miller Band, "Hurry Up and Wait"  Any Way Shape or Form  (New West, 14)
*  J Roddy Walston & the Business, "Don't Get Old"  J Roddy Walston  (Vagrant, 10)
^  Benjamin Booker, "Violent Shiver"  Benjamin Booker  (ATO, 14)  D
*  Greyhounds, "Yeah Yeah Yeah"  Accumulator  (Ardent, 14)
*  Whiskey Shivers, "Pray For Me"  Whiskey Shivers  (Self, 14)  D
*  Justin Townes Earle, "Time Shows Fools"  Single Mothers  (Vagrant, 14)
*  Cave Singers, "VV"  Welcome Joy  (Matador, 09)
*  Shakey Graves, "Dearly Departed"  And the War Came  (Dualtone, 14)  D
*  Mary Gauthier, "Trouble & Love"  Trouble & Love  (In the Black, 14)
*  Joseph LeMay, "You Still Do It"  Seventeen Acres  (Self, 14)
*  Hearts of Oak, "Tunnels"  New England  (Deer Lodge, 14)
*  Lindi  Ortega, "I'm No Elvis Presley"  Little Red Boots  (Last Gang, 11)
*  Lonesome Shack, "Medicine"  More Primitive  (Alive NaturalSound, 14)
*  Jeffrey Martin, "Coal Fire"  Dogs In the Daylight  (Fluff & Gravy, 14)  D

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