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Sunday, September 07, 2014

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
September 6, 2014
Scott Foley

Last year, I received a no-frills package in the mail, containing a plain sleeved CD copy of Israel Nash's new album.  This lack of fanfare struck me as odd, given his superb 2011 album, Barn Doors
& Concrete Floors (which boasted one of my favorite songs of the year in "Drown", along with that song's perfectly fine video which featured a cameo from Bigfoot ... or perhaps Sasquatch).  Turns out, he was restricting the initial release of Israel Nash's Rain Plans to Europe.  In the wake of a strong overseas reception, the Dripping Springs, Texas resident (gateway to the Hill Country) has finally orchestrated a formal release for his new music here at home.  I'm sure there's a good story behind dropping the "Gripka" from the end of his name; perhaps it was tied in to his move from New York in the time since Barn Doors.  No matter, Rain Plans is quite a different beast, a heavy country-rock monster that recalls the classics of the 70s.  Nash has commented that he sought to create an album that sounded like what he saw in his new home.  Apparently, Dripping Springs looks a bit like Laurel Canyon.  I don't think I've come across a review of Nash's third release that refrains from making the Neil Young comparison.  While there is a similar keen to his voice, Nash is a far stronger vocalist.  A more accurate comparison might be to Young's Crazy Horse, who play with a similar wall of sound as Nash's touring band.  Electric guitars compete with pedal steel and vocals in a thick production that emphasizes the neo-psychedelic roots of his songs.  The seven-plus minute title track is especially evocative, a heavy country-rock number that wouldn't have been out of place revolving on a 70s LP.   I would even throw in Marshall Tucker or the Band as touchstones, especially on pieces with a lighter touch, like "Myer Canyon".  In the end, it's a lovely, shambling masterpiece - the portrait of a haunted man wandering through the Texas Hill Country. 

This Episode also marks the debut of Colorado singer-songwriter Reed Foehl's long awaited new record.  Lost In the West is a step in the americana direction for Foehl, after the more folk oriented Once a River.  "Four Lanes" sounds like the dream collaboration between early Neil Young and late Ryan Adams, as arranged by Bon Iver's Justin Vernon.  The desert-dry pedal steel alone is worth the price of admission on this one.  My guess is that programmers will gravitate towards the more standard cuts like the upbeat "Caroline" (I could do an entire R&B Episode playing only songs with "Caroline" in the title), but I've certainly found my favorite track elsewhere.  See also:  "The Kill", where Foehl gets his falsetto on:  "I came in for the happiness / I came in for the Kill / But I walked out with nothing left to spill".  Not to mention the epic guitar on "Rodeo Clown" ...  

^  Israel Nash, "Rexanimarum"  Israel Nash's Rain Plans  (Loose, 14)
*  Elliott BROOD, "Jigsaw Heart"  Work and Love  (Paper Bag, 14)
*  Ben Miller Band, "The Outsider"  Any Way Shape or Form  (New West, 14)
*  Greensky Bluegrass, "Forget Everything"  If Sorrows Swim  (Thirty Tigers, 14)
*  Laura Cantrell, "Way It Is"  Not the Tremblin' Kind  (Diesel Only, 00)
*  Cahalen Morrison & Country Hammer, "Over and Over and Over Again"  Flower of Muscle Shoals  (Free Dirt, 14)
*  Jim Lauderdale, "Neon Hearts"  I'm a Song  (Sky Crunch, 14)
*  Hard Working Americans w/Rosanne Cash, "Come From the Heart"  First Waltz  (Melvin, 14)  D
^  Reed Foehl, "Four Lanes"  Lost In the West  (NeverFoehl, 14)  C, D
*  Lee Ann Womack, "When I Come Around"  The Way I'm Livin'  (Sugar Hill, 14)  D
*  Waco Brothers, "How Fast the Time"  Freedom & Weep  (Bloodshot, 05)
*  Billy Joe Shaver, "Sunbeam Special"  Long In the Tooth  (Lightning Rod, 14)
*  Kill County, "Beat Up Iron"  Broken Glass In the Sun  (Self, 14) D
*  Somebody's Darling, "Bad Bad"  Adult Roommates  (Self, 14)  D
*  Lucero, "It May Be Too Late (live)"  Live From Atlanta  (Liberty + Lament, 14)
*  Ryan Adams, "My Wrecking Ball"  Ryan Adams  (PaxAm, 14)
*  Walter Salas-Humara, "Hoping For a Comeback"  Curve and Shake  (Sonic Pyramid, 14)
*  Silos, "Tennessee Fire"  Cuba  (Dualtone, 87)
*  David Mayfield, "Rain On My Parade"  Strangers  (Compass, 14)  D
*  Goodnight Texas, "I Just Can't Stop Leaving Town"  Uncle John Farquhar  (Tallest Man, 14)
*  Joe Pug, "Downbound Train"  Dead Man's Town  (Lightning Rod, 14)
*  Caitlin Rose, "That's Alright"  Own Side Now  (Theory 8, 11)
*  Hiss Golden Messenger, "Mahogany Dread"  Lateness of Dancers  (Merge, 14)
*  Tweedy, "Flowering"  Sukierae  (dbPm, 14)
*  New Basement Tapes, "Nothing To It"  Lost On the River  (Harvest, 14)
*  Quiet Life, "Housebroken Man"  Housebroken Man  (Mama Bird, 14)
*  Loudermilks, "Broken Record"  Loudermilks  (You Know What, 14)

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