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Monday, December 08, 2014

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

This morning I finalized my Favorite Albums list for 2014.  I think.  Next Saturday's Episode, I'll unveil the results.  The list will show up online soon thereafter.  As part of this process, I looked back to lists from years passed, reminded of #1s gone by:

2013:  Jason Isbell / Southeastern
2012:  Arliss Nancy / Simple Machines
2011:  Lydia Loveless / Indestructible Machine
2010:  Robert Plant / Band of Joy
2009:  Son Volt / American Central Dust
2008:  Alejandro Escovedo / Real Animal

Not bad company, really.

Also coming up, I'll be airing my annual Holiday Episode on 12/20 - time will tell if any of my kids will be in tow this year.  I'll be presenting a Favorite Songs list 12/29 on my Monday Morning Mix 8-10am (mt), and my Colorado artists list during a weekday Mix sometime early in 2015.  I'll also be publishing these on my site, though both will messily overflow the americana genre. 

Time and again on R&B, we ask:  What becomes of the angry young punk?  In cases like Chuck Ragan, Jon Snodgrass, Michael Dean Damron and others, there's a relatively graceful evolution that follows: punk - protest - folk.  Half a lifetime ago, Virginia's Tim Barry switched trains.  Once the frontman for Richmond's Avail, Barry's solo music retains much of the honesty, the emotion and the earnest commitment of punk, but channels them through the vehicle of folk and americana.  In a very DIY punk move, he recorded his 6th album, Lost & Rootless, in a cold, jerry-rigged backyard shed,  "I wanted to make a wooden record."  That rough hewn spirit shines through on "Poppa's Porch":  Pull up a seat and ice them knuckles / Poppa's front porch has got plenty of open chairs


As punks age, they put pictures of their wife and newborn on the front of their record.  They invite their family to play on their songs, and even write their children into a couple tunes.  Barry's sister Caitlin Hunt adds a sweet violin to a handful of pieces, most notably a stirring re-recording of "No News From North," an early song from the songwriter's first album of demos.  The song highlights a dichotomy which serves as a thread running through much of the record.  Despite the hominess and prevailing hearth/friends/family vibe, there's an undeniable nomadic yearning to Lost & Rootless (note the title).   Home's just a distraction I invent / When I can't make rent.  "Older and Poorer" tells the story of his wedding, and on "All My Friends" he sings You are all welcome here / You are welcome here / You're welcome here / It's safe.  Contrast this with pieces like "I'm Only Passing Through" or the tremendous title track, songs that reflect a road weary restlessness:  I'm feelin' lost and rootless this fall / Just countin' birds and wastin' time / and prayin' this ain't all.   One of the year's strongest cuts. 

Despite all these fine Tim Barry originals, on this Episode I chose to highlight the record's sole cover, a take on Blaze Foley's classic "Clay Pigeons".  No relation, but a big fan, it's a song whose big hearted spirit fits perfectly on Lost & Rootless

*  Wooden Wand, "Winter In Kentucky"  Briarwood  (Fire, 11)
*  Crane Wives, "White Winter Hymnal"  Very Crane Wives Christmas  (Crane Wives, 14)  D
*  Rosanne Cash, "Etta's Tune"  River & the Thread  (Blue Note, 14)
*  M Ward, "Just the Other Side of Nowhere"  Transistor Radio (reissue)  (Merge, 05)
*  Lisa LeBlanc, "Katie Cruel"  Highways Heartaches & Time Well Wasted  (Bonsound, 14)
*  Dead Volts, "Ain't Dead Yet"  We Are Already Dead  (Twang N Bang, 14)
*  Whiskey Shivers, "Give Me a Reason"  Whiskey Shivers  (Whiskey Shivers, 14)
*  Steve Earle, "You're the Best Lover I Ever Had"  Terraplane Blues  (New West, 14)
*  Shelby Lynne, "Old #7"  Tears Lies & Alibis  (Everso, 10)
*  Ben Weaver, "Littleman"  I Would Rather Be a Buffalo  (Hymie's Record Label, 14)
^  Tim Barry, "Clay Pigeons"  Lost & Rootless  (Chunksaah, 14)
*  John Statz, "Amsterdam in Autumn"  Tulsa  (John Statz, 15)
*  Whitey Morgan, "Grandpa's Guitar"  Grandpa's Guitar  (Whitey Morgan, 14)
*  Hillstomp, "Don't Come Down"  Portland, Ore  (Fluff & Gravy, 14)
*  JP Harris & Tough Choices, "South Oklahoma"  Home Is Where the Hurt Is  (Cow Island, 14)
*  Chuck Berry, "Christmas"  Back Home  (Chess, 70)
*  Xmas-Men  "Little Drummer Boy / Linus & Lucy"  Santa Is Real  (Rosetta, 14)  D
*  Kathleen Edwards, "Mint"  Voyageur  (Rounder, 12)
*  Wilco, "Burned"  Alpha Mike Foxtrot: Rare Tracks  (Nonesuch, 14)
*  Centro-Matic, "Through the Fog Then Down"  Take Pride In Your Long Odds  (Centro-Matic, 14)
*  Sons of Bill, "Brand New Paradigm"  Love & Logic  (Thirty Tigers, 14)
*  Longest Day of the Year, "Black Horse Canyon"  Carapace  (Mulewax, 14)  C, D
*  New Basement Tapes, "Stranger"  Lost On the River  (Harvest, 14)
*  Bonnie "Prince" Billy & Dawn McCarthy, "Christmas Eve Can Kill You"  single  (Drag City, 12)
*  Ryan Bingham, "Radio"  Fear and Saturday Night  (Axster Bingham, 15)
*  Scruffy the Cat, "One Bad Apple"  Time Never Forgets: The Anthology '86-'88  (Sony, 14)  D
*  Whitehorse, "Downtown"  Leave No Bridge Unburned  (Six Shooter, 15)
*  Cale Tyson, "Fool Of the Year"  Cheater's Wine  (Cale Tyson, 14)

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