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Sunday, December 28, 2014

 ROUTES & BRANCHES  
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
December 27, 2014
Scott Foley

Peppered this Episode with a couple New Year themed tunes,  none of which seem especially optimistic.  I generally launch into a new year with a certain amount of eagerness with regards to new releases, having put my lists for the old year behind me.  The dearth of releases this time of year also gives me the opportunity to focus on some strong releases that didn't quite make the cut, great stuff from Lydia Loveless, Tim Barry and Bloodshot records. 

We've also been gifted recently by some fine new Colorado releases, represented here by folks like longtime Yonder Mountain String Band-er Jeff Austin, Nederland's Todd Adelman, and Jim Dalton (who works with Roger Clyne, Railbenders and Hickman Dalton Gang).  Denver's Strange Americans issued on of 2014's biggest steps forward with That Kind of Luster, which brings to mind elements of more recent Son Volt.  Incidentally, I've adjusted my previously announced plans, and will play some of my favorite Square State music from 8-10am (MT) on Monday 12/29. 

Other promising debuts this Episode include a stellar new tune from Joe Pug's forthcoming record, and an uncharacteristically gritty bit from Allison Moorer.  We also wrangle a couple outliers in Roger Alan Wade and Joey Allcorn, and enjoy what could be an early candidate for the album of early 2015 from American Aquarium. 

Which leaves me to talk about Justin Townes Earle, issuing the companion piece to last year's excellent Single Mothers.  Appropriately termed Absent Fathers, the record was initially intended as a double album, which would've competed with Lucinda Williams' Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone for the year's worthiest double release.  Mothers ended up as my 9th favorite of the year.  After enjoying both records,  I really can't see a line between the two.  Fathers' songs might be a touch more upbeat, and Mothers strikes me as perhaps more personal, but both find JTE in a comfortable place.  New songs like "Call Ya Momma" and "Round the Bend" are representative of his recent explorations of a more contemporary country-soul sound.  As with Lucinda, there are plenty of heartbreakers, downbeat pieces like "Least I Got the Blues" or the beautiful "Looking For a Place To Land" which augment Earle's fragile but expressive vocals with some sweet pedal steel.  Logistics might be the strongest argument as to why the albums were released 4 months apart.  Just for fun, I listened to them on a "random" setting, with their respective songs blending perfectly from one to the next.  I can also attest that this is a perfect way to pass a snowbound afternoon in the early winter. 

Day and Night / Change and uncertainty / What can I say / What will I have to show / Will I be remembered for the love I made / And everything I've stolen  / Now the sun is going down / and I'll be damned if it don't look like snow ...

*  Ray Wylie Hubbard, "New Year's Eve At the Gates of Hell"  Grifter's Hymnal  (Bordello, 12)
*  Low Anthem, "Champion Angel"  Oh My God Charlie Darwin  (Nonesuch, 09)
*  Lydia Loveless, "Wine Lips"  Somewhere Else  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  M Lockwood Porter, "Different Kind of Lonely"  27  (MLP, 14)
^  Justin Townes Earle, "Round the Bend"  Absent Fathers  (Vagrant, 15)
*  Dead Volts, "Late Again"  We Are Already Dead  (Twang N Bang, 14)
*  Jim Dalton, "Have a Drink On Me"  single  (Dalton, 14)  C, D
*  Todd Adelman, "Cold Mississippi Blues"  Highways & Lowways  (Porch Lantern, 14)  C, D
*  Charlie Robison, "New Year's Day"  Good Times  (Dualtone, 04)
*  Strange Americans, "Le Central"  That Kind of Luster  (Strange Americans, 14)  C
*  American Aquarium, "Wolves"  Wolves  (American Aquarium, 15)  D
*  Drive-by Truckers, "Women Without Whiskey"  Southern Rock Opera  (Lost Hwy, 01)
*  Patterson Hood, "Rising Son"  Killers and Stars  (New West, 04)
*  Allison Moorer, "Like It Used To Be"  Down  To Believing  (E1, 15)  D
*  Whitey Morgan, "Another Wine"  Grandpa's Guitar  (Whitey Morgan, 14)
*  Roger Alan Wade, "Things I Been Blamed For"  Bad News Knockin'   (Johnny Knoxville, 14)  D
*  Joey Allcorn, "South Montgomery Blues"  Nothing Left To Prove  (Blue Yodel, 14)  D
*  Carolyn Mark, "Last To Know"  While No One Was Looking  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Lone Bellow, "Fake Roses"  Then Came the Morning  (Descendant, 15)
*  JD McPherson, "Let the Good Times Roll"  Let the Good Times Roll  (Rounder, 15)
*  Jeff Austin, "What the Night Brings"  Simple Truth  (YepRoc, 15)
*  Tim Barry, "No News From the North"  Lost & Rootless  (Chunksaah, 14)
*  Joe Pug, "If Still It Can't Be Found"  Windfall  (Lightning Rod, 15)  D
*  Hurray For the Riff Raff, "Little Black Star"  Look Out Mama  (Loose, 11)
*  Bottle Rockets, "Another Brand New Year"  Brand New Year  (New West, 99)
*  Districts, "4th & Roebling"  Flourish & a Spoil  (Fat Possum, 15)
*  Robert Earl Keen, "Wayfaring Stranger"  Happy Prisoner: Bluegrass Sessions  (Dualtone, 15)
*  Slaid Cleaves, "New Year's Day"  Wishbones  (Rounder, 04)

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