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Monday, March 09, 2015

ROUTES & BRANCHES 
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
March 7, 2015
Scott Foley

I am camped out beside my mailbox, checking hourly for the imminent delivery of the Banditos' debut record from Bloodshot Records.  I don't want to seem desperate here, but I'm desperate here to hear what could rival last year's Bloodhounds for off-the-rails entertainment.  To quote CMT:  "these mothers can choogle" (I don't know if I've ever choogled ...). 

Great Thanx to Lilly Hiatt for the best song title of the week in "Jesus Would've Let Me Pick the Restaurant".   The rest of Royal Blue ain't too bad either, an edgier effort compared to her debut.  I have to admit that I was torn between writing this week about Spirit Family Reunion's excellent Hands Together, Sam Lewis' soulful new collection or about Sarah Gayle Meech.  On any other given week, these albums would've blown away the competition ...

However, when Great Peacock's full length debut landed in my e-box my decision was suddenly made for me. If you're already somewhat familiar with the Nashville band you might be picturing That Guy In a Poncho about now.  I wasn't even aware that they made ponchos anymore, but bandmember Blount Floyd is apparently well connected, as I don't know that I've come across a picture where he's not rocking the comfortable accessory.  Sartorial preferences aside, Floyd and more nattily attired Andrew Nelson compose the core of Great Peacock on Making Ghosts.  Whereas their 2013 EP boasted a definite Laurel Canyon country-rock vibe, the new batch of songs is not what I expected.  Most songs feature a full band as well as a larger, more crowd friendly sound.  A couple tunes ("Take Me To the Mountain" and "Desert Lark") were featured on that earlier EP, and "Tennessee" originally saw the light of day around Thanksgiving.  According to the band's site, "It's a pop record ... with folk tendencies."  The tight Floyd/Nelson harmonies that largely define the Great Peacock sound shine brightly throughout, especially on songs like the title track and the strummy "Summer Song".  Making Ghosts is deeply rooted in Southern soil, though there is also a "heartland" vibe on pieces like the title track, with electric guitars, keys and anthemic spirit:  "Lay me down / There beneath the Southern ground / The church bells will make the sound" - Think 90s Springsteen, Scarecrow-era Mellencamp or anything Petty.  Great Peacock's radio-ready maturity brings to mind another LP on This Is American Music's label - last year's Fire Mountain.  The collection's most tuneful offering, "Broken Hearted Fool", rides on a languid wave of pedal steel, just expert enough to seem effortless.  Making Ghosts goes down easy, but it never takes the easy way out.  Americana doesn't have to sound like it was recorded in your mom's basement.  These songs can be as comfortable as an old (green) poncho, and are just the thing to wrap yourself in as winter turns in fits and starts to spring.

*  Diamond Rugs, "Thunk"  Cosmetics  (Sycamore, 15)
*  Delta Routine, "On a Saturday Night"  You and Your Lion  (Delta Routine, 15)
*  Magnolia Electric Co., "Leave the City"  What Comes After the Blues  (Secretly Canadian, 05)
*  Wooden Wand, "Don't This Look Like the Dark"  Farewell Transmission  (Rock the Cause, 14)
*  Houndmouth, "Black Gold"  Little Neon Limelight  (Rough Trade, 15)
*  Lilly Hiatt, "Jesus Would've Let Me Pick the Restaurant"  Royal Blue  (Normaltown, 15)
*  Girls Guns & Glory, "Rockin' Chair Money (live)"  Tribute To Hank Williams Live  (Dry Lightning, 15)
*  Andrew Combs, "Nothing To Lose"  All These Dreams  (Thirty Tigers, 15)
*  Sam Lewis, "Things Will Never Be the Same"  Waiting On You  (Brash, 15)
*  Shannon McNally, "Love In the Worst Degree"  Small Town Talk  (Sacred Sumac, 13)
*  Simon Joyner, "Nostalgia Blues"  Grass Branch & Bone  (Woodsist, 15)  D
*  Townes Van Zandt, "Flyin' Shoes"  Flyin' Shoes  (Fat Possum, 78)
*  Deslondes, "Fought the Blues and Won"  the Deslondes  (New West, 15)
*  JJ Grey & Mofro, "Every Minute"  Ol' Glory  (Provogue, 15)
*  Alabama Shakes, "Gimme All Your Love"  Sound and Color  (ATO, 15)
*  Banditos, "Cry Baby Cry"  Banditos  (Bloodshot, 15)  D
*  Jayhawks, "Take Me With You (When You Go)"  Hollywood Town Hall  (American, 92)
*  Great Lake Swimmers, "I Must Have Someone Else's Blues"  A Forest of Arms  (Nettwerk, 15)
*  Vetiver, "Loose Ends"  Complete Strangers  (Andy Cambic, 15)
*  Joe Pug, "Windfallen"  Windfall  (Lightning Rod, 15)
*  Allison Moorer, "Like It Used To Be"  Down To Believing  (E1, 15)
*  Walt Wilkins & the Mystiqueros, "Trains I Missed"  Diamonds In the Sun  (Palo Duro, 07)
^  Great Peacock, "Broken Hearted Fool"  Making Ghosts  (This Is American Music, 15)  D
*  John Calvin Abney, "Stepladder"  Better Luck  (Bullets In the Chamber, 15)
*  Hip Hatchet, "Coward's Luck"  Hold You Like a Harness  (Hip Hatchet, 15)
*  Violent Femmes, "Love Love Love Love Love"  Happy New Year  (Violent Femmes, 15)  D
*  Sarah Gayle Meech, "Tennessee Love Song"  Tennessee Love Song  (SGM, 15)

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