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Sunday, October 05, 2014

ROUTES & BRANCHES 
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
October 4, 2014
Scott Foley

Got a chance to catch up with Nicest Guy in Americana Ronnie Fauss this Episode, as we wrapped up KRFC's Fall 2014 Membership Drive in classy fashion.  The Dallas resident debuted a couple tunes from his forthcomer, Built To Break live instudio. Thanks to all whose contributions will allow me to maintain my Saturday afternoon habits into the foreseeable future. 

Last week's post got me in a bit of hot water.  Specifically, the revelation regarding  my ongoing allergy to folk music.  For this Episode, I sought to remedy any hurt feelings by showcasing two newly released recordings that feature a strain of folk that is more palatable to me.  Granted, both offer a more "hybridized" approach, with Montreal's Barr Brothers adding exotic percussion to their indie-folk.  Those rhythms were present to a lesser degree in their autumnal debut, whose pastoral harmonies caught my ear back in 2011. Sleeping Operator extrapolates the spirit of songs like "Lord I Just Can't Keep From Crying" and "Give the Devil Back His Heart" into their new compositions.  Tuneful percussion drives the songs, alongside the folky harp (which can sometimes come across like an mbira in the right settings) and fuzzy electric guitar.  "Come In the Water" pairs that harp with church organ for a bluesy recitation, while "Half Crazy" lets loose the African percussion and soulful guitar.  Operator is a darker, more lush expression for the Barr Brothers, a frequently gorgeous collection that showcases the good that can come of folk based music. 

My other concession to folk hails from Portland, in the form of Justin Ringle and his Horse Feathers.  No stranger to R&B, I've admired Ringle's first four records for their smart arrangements and spirit of introversion.  Ringle himself admits that he'd considered packing up his guitar after touring behind 2012's Cynic's New Year.  Turns out, while Horse Feathers' songs were praised for their thoughtfulness, it was never the kind of music you wanted to play to raise your spirits.  So, So It Is With Us is the band's good-time record. The change in approach is evident from the outset, with "Violently Wild" and "Thousand", which are still heady, but which are lifted by drums and upbeat arrangements.  The fiddle remains prominent, and Ringle will probably never ask that you raise your hands in the air, but this is what passes for abandon in  Horse Feathers.  "Old Media" fairly rocks in comparison to previous records, and songs like "Middle Testament" are allowed to unspool like a song from the Band's midperiod.  Like Sam Beam's Iron & Wine or Calexico's innovative hybrids, it's well rooted in folk, but it's worlds away from the hyper-earnest strumfest that defines much of the genre.  Both Horse Feathers and Barr Brothers provide a suitable soundtrack as late summer marches into fall. 



*  Avett Brothers, "I Would Be Sad"  Emotionalism  (Ramseur, 07)
*  Barr Brothers, "Half Crazy"  Sleeping Operator  (Secret City, 14)
*  Horse Feathers, "Violently Wild"  So It Is With Us  (Kill Rock Stars, 14)  D
*  Blitzen Trapper, "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad Is To Be High)"  While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records  (Bloodshot, 14)  D
*  Ryan Adams, "I Just Might"  Ryan Adams  (PaxAm, 14)
*  Lone Justice, "Working Man Blues"  This is Lone Justice: the Vaught Sessions  (Omnivore, 13)
*  Luke Winslow-King, "Domino Sugar"  Everlasting Arms  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Kill County, "Beat Up Iron"  Broken Glass In the Sun  (Self, 14)
*  Magnolia Electric Co., "Talk To Me Devil Again"  Sojourner Box Set  (Secretly Canadian, 07)
*  Tom Vandenavond w/Larry & His Flask, "Losing Time"  Endtimes  (Hillgrass Bluebilly, 14)
*  JP Harris & the Tough Choices, "Maria"  Home Is Where the Hurt Is  (Cow Island, 14)  D
*  Pieta Brown, "Letter In Hand"  Paradise Outlaw  (Red House, 14)
*  Joe Pug, "Downbound Train"  Dead Man's Town: Tribute to Born in the USA  (Lightning Rod, 14)
*  Long Ryders, "Prairie Fire"  Two Fisted Tales  (Island, 87)
*  Sid Griffin, "Ode To Bobbie Gentry"  Trick Is To Breathe  (Prima, 14)
*  Tweedy, "World Away"  Sukierae  (dbPm, 14)
*  Joe Fletcher & the Wrong Reasons, "Life of the Party"  You've Got the Wrong Man  (Self, 14)  D
*  Caleb Caudle, "Come On October"  Paint Another Layer On My Heart  (This is Amer Music, 14)
*  Alejandro Escovedo, "Castanets (live)"  Por Vida Live  (Junketboy, 12)
*  Centro-Matic, "Salty Disciple"  Take Pride In Your Long Odds  (Self, 14)
*  Rocky Votolato,  "Tennessee Train Tracks"  Makers  (Barsuk, 05)
*  Pine Hill Haints, "Galaxy Buffalo"  Magick Sounds of ...  (K, 14)
*  Elliott BROOD, "Little Ones"  Work and Love  (Paper Bag, 14)
*  Ronnie Fauss, "Another Town"  live in studio
*  Ronnie Fauss, "Big Catch"  live in studio
*  Israel Nash, "Rexanimarum"  Israel Nash's Rain Plans  (Loose, 14)

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