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Monday, November 10, 2014

ROUTES & BRANCHES
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
November 8, 2014
Scott Foley 

I got a cup of black coffee so I don't get lazy
I got a rattle in the dashboard, driving my crazy
And if I hit it with a fist it'll quit for a little while

Welcome back, James McMurtry.  The banjos-n-beatz  sound of his new CC Adcock-produced single isn't quite what I'd expected from him, but the smart, quickfire lyrical stream is pure McMurtry.  

Also on this Episode, nobody assembles a compilation like Bloodshot Records.  On the occasion of their 20th anniversary, the always interesting Chicago label releases While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records.  Where less adventurous labels might issue a retrospective of their "hits", Bloodshot instead invited non-label acts to interpret songs from the label's catalog.  Like a Bizzaro World of alt.country, it wasn't Ryan Adams who brought us "To Be Young (Is To Be Sad, Is To Be High)," but Blitzen Trapper.  Likewise, "My Winding Wheel" comes from Ivan & Alyosha, and Adams' "Come Pick Me Up" from Superchunk.  You get the game.  As a man who likes nothing better than an out-of-left-field cover, there is material here for months of R&B Episodes.  Over the space of two discs, you'll find gems like Chuck Ragan tearing into Cory Branan's "Survivor's Blues".  Two Gallants punking up Scott H. Biram's "Truck Driver,"  while Shakey Graves turns Wayne Hancock's "Happy Birthday Julie" into another beast entirely.  Forced at gunpoint to select the collection's two most unexpected pleasures, I'd have to tag William Elliott Whitmore's graceful take on Neko Case's "I Wish I Was the Moon" and a heartbreaking run through Dex Romweber's "Is That You In the Blue" by Black Diamond Heavies' James Leg (just piano and Leg's tender slur).  There's nothing cheap here, no wacky throwaways.  Just artists giving a nod to their peers, paying tribute to a label that's been operating on integrity for two decades.  God bless Bloodshot. 

*  Richard Buckner, "Ariel Ramirez"  Since  (MCA, 98)
*  Richard Buckner, "Jewelbomb"  Since  (MCA, 98)
*  Jerry Lee Lewis, "Here Comes That Rainbow Again"  Rock & Roll Time  (Vanguard, 14)
*  Longest Day of the Year, "Last Gray Day"  Carapace  (Mulewax, 14)  C
*  John Moreland, "Holy Ghost Haunted"  Everything the Hard Way  (Okie Tone, 11)
*  Bloodhounds, "Bottle Cap Blues"  Let Loose!  (Alive Naturalsound, 14)
*  Texas Tornadoes, "Rosalita"  4 Aces  (Reprise, 96)
*  Sir Douglas Quintet, "I Don't Want To Go Home"  Complete Mercury Masters  (Mercury, 05)
*  Ryan Bingham, "Broken Heart Tattoos"  Fear and Saturday Night  (Axster Bingham, 15)
^  Samantha Crain, "Cold Forgiver"  While No One Was Looking: Toasting 20 Years of Bloodshot Records  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Cracker, "California Country Boy"  Berkeley To Bakersfield  (Pavement, 15)
*  Reed Foehl, "Steal Away"  Lost In the West  (NeverFoehl, 14)  C
*  Ronnie Fauss, "Eighteen Wheels"  Built To Break  (Normaltown, 14)
*  James McMurtry, "How'm I Gonna Find You Now"  Complicated Game  (Complicated Game, 15) D
*  JP Harris & Tough Choices, "Maria"  Home Is Where the Hurt Is  (Cow Island, 14)
*  Lucinda Williams, "Temporary Nature (of Any Precious Thing)"  Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone  (Hwy 20, 14)
*  Shakey Graves, "Hard Wired"  And the War Came  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Benjamin Booker, "Always Waiting"  Benjamin Booker  (ATO, 14)
*  Middle Brother, "Someday"  Middle Brother  (Partisan, 11)
*  Those Darlins, "Waste Away"  Screws Get Loose  (Oh Wow Dang, 11)
*  Parlor Pickers, "Nebraska"  Joliet Street Shakedown  (Self, 14)  C
*  Dirty River Boys, "Highway Love"  Dirty River Boys  (Thirty Tigers, 14)  D
*  Pine Hill Haints, "Shattered Waltz"  Magick Sounds of ...  (K, 14)
*  Shovels & Rope, "Coping Mechanism"  Swimmin' Time  (Dualtone, 14)
*  Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar"  Ballad of Sally Rose  (Warner, 85)
*  Whitehorse, "Baby What's Wrong"  Leave No Bridge Unburned  (Six Shooter, 15)  D
*  Greensky Bluegrass, "Demons"  If Sorrows Swim  (Thirty Tigers, 14)
*  Ben Weaver, "Ramblin' Bones"  I Would Rather Be a Buffalo  (Hymie's Record Label, 14)
*  Pegi Young, "Lonely Women Make Good Lovers"  Lonely In a Crowded Room  (New West, 14)  D

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