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Monday, February 23, 2015

ROUTES & BRANCHES   
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
February 21, 2015
Scott Foley

Four (4) full hours of R&B  this week, covering for the Spot Formerly Known As Tarnation!.  Allows me the room to stretch out a bit, to pepper the mix with some elderly cuts.  I believe this is how R&B is meant to be heard (actually, it's my experience that, to paraphrase Goldilocks, two hours = too few and four hours = too many; three hours = just right).  

It was way back in September when I received three cuts from the pride of Nebraska, Kill County.  At the time, the band was uncertain as to the strategy for unleashing these new tunes, which were recorded in Detroit.  Welp, apparently they've untangled those knots and made the entirety of Broken Glass In the Sun available on Bandcamp and other digital delivery sources.  I began waving the Kill County flag following their Dust In Wire collection, which haunted my early 2013.  I've since added the earlier Year of Getting By to my life, and I'm a far better man for it.  Like its predecessors, Broken Glass is a dark record, a fitting soundtrack to the short and claustrophobic days of winter.  The dual vocals of Ringo and Josh James establish a high/low, dark/light, heaven/hell juxtaposition, never perfect or polished - they even alternate lines within songs.  Kill County is an acoustic band with no patience for overdubs.  Their music has typically come across as recorded live, perhaps in a small room echoing with ambient creaks and snaps and shuffles.  There is banjo, fiddle and guitar, but this is hardly bluegrass.  There's a strong strain of melancholy, though the songs are smart and poetic with no false sentiment or filler ("7 Billion Broken Hearts" will, in fact, break hearts).  Despite the fact that Broken Glass was recorded in Detroit, I would argue that much of Kill County's music makes little sense in an urban setting.  Songs like "Bad Gasoline" or "Beat Up Iron" are caked in backroads dirt, and the title cut kicks up gravel and rattles over deep ruts. "And it's a long road back to no man's land / and I can't stand these shaking hands. / I am nothing but dirt beneath my heels  /  Only dust behind my wheels."  Granted, the recordings on this new batch of songs are sonically cleaner than early classics like "Straight Six Ford", but it's still stuff best understood in a "Shitty Truck" (see Dust In Wire).  "I've been feeling like beat up iron  /  Just slipping through my gears  /  And I suppose we all must pay  /  For those good old days.

Also in this generous batch, we enjoy a live dose of Matthew Houck, aka Phosphorescent.  Houck's voice is one of my favorite things ever these days, especially when it breaks just right.  This is why shows like American Idol or The Voice don't quite work.  Houck would probably scare your kids singing "Happy Birthday" - his voice isn't one that would turn coaches' chairs.  Nevertheless, when he applies that flawed and fractured instrument to "Joe Tex, These Taming Blues" or "Song For Zula", it can be transcendent.  

*  Diamond Rugs, "I Can't Help It"  Cosmetics  (Sycamore, 15)
*  Blitzen Trapper, "American Goldwing (live)"  Live in Portland  (LidKerCow Ltd, 14)
*  Delines, "82nd Street"  Colfax  (El Cortez, 14)
*  Leon Bridges, "Coming Home"  single  (Columbia, 15)
*  Hacienda Brothers, "Ordinary Fool"  Arizona Motel  (Proper, 08)
*  Old Crow Medicine Show, "Mother Church"  Brushy Mt Conjugal Trailer EP  (ATO, 15)
*  Jack White, "Did You Hear John Hurt (live)"  Another Day Another Time  (Nonesuch, 15)
^  Kill County, "Bad Gasoline"  Broken Glass In the Sun  (Kill County, 15)
*  John Calvin Abney, "Cut the Rope"  Better Luck  (Bullets In the Chamber, 15)
*  Cory Branan, "Skateland South"  The Hell You Say  (Chin Up, 02)
*  Samantha Crain, "Traipsing Through the Aisles"  the Confiscation  (Ramseur, 08)
*  Spirit Family Reunion, "It Does Not Bother Me"  Hands Together  (SFR, 15)
*  Andrew Bird w/Nora O'Connor, "I'll Trade You Money For Wine"  While No One Was Looking  (Bloodshot, 14)
*  Steve Earle, "Usual Time"  Terraplane  (New West, 15)
*  John Statz, "Queen Of the Plains"  Tulsa  (John Statz, 15)  C
*  James McMurtry, "These Things I've Come To Know"  Complicated Game  (Complicated Game, 15)
*  Left Arm Tan, "69 Reasons"  Alticana  (Left Arm Tan, 13)
*  Jim White vs Packway Handle  Band, "Breathing Room"  Take It Like a Man  (Yep Roc, 15)
*  Gram Parsons, "Love Hurts"  Grievous Angel  (Reprise, 74)
*  Lilly Hiatt, "Royal Blue"  Royal Blue  (Normaltown, 15)  D
*  Pops Staples, "Love On My Side"  Don't Lose This  (Anti, 15)
*  JD McPherson, "Mother Of Lies"  Let the Good  Times Roll  (Rounder, 15)
*  Shakey Graves, "Pay the Road"  Nobody's Fool  (Shakey Graves, 15)
*  Joe Ely, "Treat Me Like a Saturday Night"  Joe Ely  (MCA, 77)
*  Ryan Culwell, "Think I'll Be Their God"  Flatlands  (Lightning Rod, 15)
*  Shelby Lynne, "I Can't Imagine"  I Can't Imagine  (Rounder, 15)  D
*  Dwight Yoakam, "Second Hand Heart"  Second Hand Heart  (Reprise, 15)
*  6 String Drag, "Kingdom of Gettin' It Wrong"  Roots Rock 'n' Roll  (Royal Potato, 15)
*  Lindi Ortega, "Dying Of Another Broken Heart"  Little Red Boots  (Last Gang, 11)
*  Chris Stapleton, "Traveller"  Traveller  (Mercury, 15)  D
*  Blackberry Smoke, "Holding All the Roses"  Holding All the Roses  (Rounder, 15)  D
*  Reckless Kelly, "Wicked Twisted Road"  Wicked Twisted Road  (Sugar Hill, 05)
*  Fifth On the Floor, "Angels In the Snow (Shangri-La Version)"  & After  (FotF, 15)
*  Deslondes, "I Fought the Blues and Won"  the Deslondes  (New West, 15)  D
*  Julie Miller, "Devil Is An Angel"  Blue Pony  (Hightone, 97)
*  American Aquarium, "Ramblin' Ways"  Wolves  (American Aquarium, 15)
*  Water Liars, "Swannanoa (live)"  OurVinyl Sessions  (OurVinyl, 15)
*  Jason Isbell & Amanda Shires, "Mutineer"  Sea Songs  (Southeastern, 15)
*  Houndmouth, "Otis"  Little Neon Limelight  (Rough Trade, 15)
*  Phosphorescent, "Down To Go (live)"  Live At the Music Hall  (Dead Oceans, 15)
*  Handsome Family, "Giant of Illinois"  Through the Trees  (Carrot Top, 98)
*  Andrew Combs, "Pearl"  All These Dreams  (Thirty Tigers, 15)
*  Ryan Bingham, "Hands of Time"  Fear and Saturday Night  (Axster Bingham, 15)
*  Steve Gunn & Black Twig Pickers, "Trailways Ramble"  Seasonal Hire  (Thrill Jockey, 15)
*  John Doe & the Sadies, "Detroit City (I Want To Go Home)"  Country Club  (Yep  Roc, 09)
*  Rev Peyton's Big Damn Band, "Hell Naw"  So Delicious  (Shanachie, 15)
*  Alabama Shakes, "Don't Wanna Fight"  Sound & Color  (ATO, 15)
*  Benjamin Booker, "Chippewa (live)"  Live At Third Man Records  (Third Man, 15)
*  Two Cow Garage, "Let the Boys Be Girls"  single  (Last Chance, 15)
*  Dolorean, "We Winter Wrens"  You Can't Win  (Yep Roc, 07)
*  Eels, "Can't Help Falling In Love (live)"  Royal Albert Hall  (Eworks, 15)  D
*  Caitlin Rose, "Sinful Wishing Well"  Own Side Now  (Theory 8, 11)
*  Longest Day of the Year, "Let What's In Out"  Carapace  (Mulewax, 15)  C
*  Joe Pug, "Burn and Shine"  Windfall  (Lightning Rod, 15)
*  Butch Walker, "I Love You"  Afraid of Ghosts  (Dangerbird, 15)
*  Alejandro Escovedo, "Always a Friend"  Real Animal  (Back Porch, 08)
*  Gill Landry, "Just Like You"  Gill Landry  (ATO, 15)

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