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Monday, March 23, 2015

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

I suppose we could attribute the relative lack of debuts this week on the fact that everyone except me was down at SXSW rubbing shoulders with one another.  With the degree of publicity and the level of artist that the festival is attracting these days, perhaps it's time to find a new venue for cutting edge, truly independent music and arts. 

Charlie Parr understands independent arts.  Even with loads of albums under his belt and a shiny new contract with Red House, the Minnesotan comes across as a humble and genuine soul.  I remember greeting Charlie as he approached the studio during a visit several months back.  He looked like just another friendly, hairy Fort Collins guy toting his worn guitar case down the alley. Most of his 12+ releases sound as though they were recorded in such a setting, with the artist settling down in a makeshift studio to share a couple new songs.  While many have noted that Stumpjumper is recorded with a band, Parr has never shied away from collaboration, whether with Black Twig Pickers, Alan Sparhawk, or Megafaun's Phil Cook who earns producer credits on the new collection.  Parr hardly sounds crowded by his backing band on songs like "Over the Red Cedar" or the title cut, while more primitive pieces like "Remember Me If I Forget" or the record's sole cover, "Delia" wouldn't sound out of place on an earlier CD.  The artist's authenticity shines through on "Evil Companion", sounding like a live studio cut, driven by a gospel piano and Parr's dobro.  A skronky sax punctuates the lines of "Empty Out Your Pockets", alongside drums, fiddle and even electric guitar.  Folks who follow my show and this blog have long known that I am far from a purist.  While I find no fault whatsoever in Charlie Parr's earlier bare bones recordings, I hear a more engaged artist on "Empty Out Your Pockets", perhaps driven into gear by the accompaniment.  His vocals are more fiery and his songs take on a new, fuller dimension - "Stumpjumper" positively unwinds into a frenzy.  A solo Parr will pass through Fort Collins this Friday March 27 at the Aggie Theater, returning in June to headline the Choice City Stomp. 


*  John Moreland, "High On Tulsa Heat"  High On Tulsa Heat  (Old Omens, 15)
*  Rev Petyon's Big Damn Band, "We Live Dangerous"  So Delicious  (Shanachie, 15)
*  JD McPherson, "It's All Over But the Shouting"  Let the Good Times Roll  (Rounder, 15)
*  Sarah Gayle Meech, "No Mess"  Tennessee Love Song  (SGM, 15)
*  M Ward, "One Hundred Million Years"  Hold Time  (Merge, 09)
*  William Elliott Whitmore, "Don't Strike Me Down"  Radium Death  (Anti, 15)
*  Spirit Family Reunion, "Skillet Good & Greasy"  Hands Together  (SPF, 15)
^  Charlie Parr, "Temperence River Blues"  Stumpjumper  (Red House, 15)
*  Great Peacock, "Broken Hearted Fool"  Making Ghosts  (This is American Music, 15)
*  Houndmouth, "Black Gold"  Little Neon Limelight  (Rough Trade, 15)
*  Diamond Rugs, "Killing Time"  Cosmetics  (Sycamore, 15)
*  Lee Bains III & Glory Fires, "Total Destruction To Your Mind"  Rock & Roll Is a Beautiful Thing: Alive Natural Sound 20th Anniversary  (Alive Natural Sound, 15)
*  South San Gabriel, "Senselessly"  Dual Hawks  (Misra, 08)
*  American Aquarium, "Who Needs a Song"  Wolves  (American Aquarium, 15)
*  Minus 5, "In the Ground"  Dungeon Golds  (Yep Roc, 15)
*  Lilly Hiatt, "Jesus Would've Let Me Pick the Restaurant"  Royal Blue  (Normaltown, 15)
*  Gill Landry, "Fennario"  Gill Landry  (ATO, 15)
*  Lone Bellow, "Diner"  Then Came the Morning  (Descendant, 15)
*  Hayes Carll, "Little Rock"  Little Rock  (Hwy 87, 04)
*  Joe Pug, "If Still It Can't Be Found"  Windfall  (Lightning Rod, 15)
*  Pokey LaFarge, "Wanna Be Your Man"  Something In the Water  (Rounder, 15)
*  Malcolm Holcombe, "I Never Heard You Knockin'"  RCA Sessions  (Proper, 15)  D
*  Seth Avett & Jessica Lea Mayfield, "Roman Candle"  Sing Elliott Smith  (Ramseur, 15)
*  Great Lake Swimmers, "A Bird Flew Inside the House"  A Forest of Arms  (Nettwerk, 15)
*  Sam Lewis, "Reinventing the Blues"  Waiting On You  (Brash, 15)
*  Ryan Bingham, "Top Shelf Drug"  Fear and Saturday Night  (Axster Bingham, 15)
*  Jason Boland & the Stragglers, "Dark & Dirty Mile"  Dark & Dirty Mile  (Proud Souls, 13)
*  Ray Wylie Hubbard, "Bad On Fords"  Ruffian's Misfortune  (Bordello, 15)
*  Lucinda Williams, "Sweet Side (live)"  Live @ the Fillmore  (Lost Hwy, 08)

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