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Saturday, July 25, 2015

featuring the very best of americana, and roots music
July 18, 2015
Scott Foley

I'm thinking of adding another tagline to my collection that would read, "So much good stuff".  Because it's true.  Halfway thru the week when I think I won't have too much new music to share on Saturday, the proverbial levee breaks.  It's especially true now that the Official Universal Record Release Date happens on Friday instead of Tuesday (as god intended).  This week brings debuts from Turnpike Troubadours and Promised Land Sound, as well as the beautiful and elegant James Leg.  Also, Wilco went and dropped an entire record for the price of your email address (probably worth way more than we imagine these days).

Also this week, we're thankful for "So much good stuff" from years past.  While the playlist on Routes & Branches bends decisively towards novelty, I hate a show without at least a couple backtracks.  See last week's post for some gushing about Jamie Lin Wilson's sweet new record, then join me in recalling how strong her previous outfit, the Gougers, could be.  Likewise, Shovels & Rope is/are just fine, but Cary Ann Hearst's earlier solo material can be revelatory.  Plus, the Bottle Rockets' ode to Doug Sahm is on my (long) list of underappreciated gems.

But this Episode is brought to you by the letter "S" for soul.  In this, the year of soul in americana, we've already thrilled to releases by Alabama Shakes, Andrew Combs, Leon Bridges, Anderson East and Nathaniel Rateliff & the Night Sweats.  Now, from New Orleans, the borough that birthed the Deslondes, we welcome the soulful septet the Revivalists.  I have to admit that I completely blew it on their 2012 City of Sound release, so I'm especially pleased that I have yet another opportunity to embrace the band with their infectious new Men Amongst Mountains record.  The collection lands a ridiculous one-two punch with "Keep Going" and "Wish I Knew You", both tracks launching solid pop-soul hooks.  Sax sidles up to pedal steel, lifted on an altar of keys and delivered home by David Shaw's confident vocal.  Truth be told, I would expect nothing less from an album recorded in Bogalusa, Louisiana - set to sticky analog tape with participants shoehorned into a single room.  Much of the appeal of Men lies in the sheer range of sounds across the collection.  "King Of What" is a subtle acoustic number that evokes the earliest Mumford tracks.  The subsequent cut, "Stand Up" funks it all up, Shaw's delivery owing more to contemporary urban flow than to anything with strings (plus, how often do you get to enjoy a shrieking sax solo with your roots?).  "Need You" is a sultry piece that steadily unfurls into a blues rock burner.  If contemporary AAA radio knew what was good for it, a driving, tuneful track like "Bulletproof" would find a perfect home on your college and community stations alongside My Morning Jacket or Grace Potter. 

Bottom line:  You might join my dear wife in asking where all this funk 'n roots fits into what we do on R&B.  That's where "So much good stuff" comes into play.  Our broadcast casts a much wider net that any other roots-leaning program you're likely to enjoy.  Part of that's for the sake of my sanity.  I couldn't subsist on a limited diet of americana, narrowly defined.  The genre would do itself a great favor by widening its welcome to include more than the obvious purveyors of stuff that twangs.  This is why the recent presence of Alabama Shakes atop the Americana Radio charts bodes well for us all as listeners, programmers and bloggers.  The less predictable and formulaic we are, the more relevant we'll be.  Let me know if I ever fail to surprise, challenge or fulfill you. 

* Warren Haynes w/Railroad Earth, "Coal Tattoo"  Ashes & Dust  (Concord, 15)
* Willie Nelson & Merle Haggard, "Unfair Weather Friend"  Django & Jimmie  (Sony, 15)
* T Hardy Morris, "Quieter (When I Leave Town)"  Drownin' On a Mountaintop  (Dangerbird, 15)
* David Ramirez, "That Ain't Love"  Fables  (Sweetworld, 15)
* Phil Cook, "1922"  Southland Mission  (Thirty Tigers, 15)
* HoneyHoney, "Big Man"  3  (Rounder, 15)
* Bottle Rockets, "I Don't Want To Go Home"  Songs Of Sahm  (Bloodshot, 01)
* Jason Isbell, "Something More Than Free" Something More Than Free (Southeastern, 15)
* Jamie Lin Wilson, "Just Like Heartache"  Holidays & Wedding Rings  (JLW, 15)
* Gougers, "Riding In a Lincoln Continental With Sylvia Plath"  Long Day For the Weathervane  (Gougers, 07)
* Cary Ann Hearst, "Eastern Continental Divide"  Lions & Lambs  (CAH, 11)
* Sam Outlaw, "Love Her For Awhile"  Angeleno  (Thirty Tigers, 15)
* Anderson East, "Satisfy Me"  Delilah  (Elektra, 15)
* Lee Barber, "Singing Boy Preacher"  Missing Pages  (Lee Barber, 15)
* James Leg, "Up Above My Head"  Below the Belt  (Alive Naturalsound, 15)  D
* Left Lane Cruiser, "Whitebread & Beans"  Dirty Spliff Blues  (Alive Naturalsound, 15)
* Kasey Chambers, "Hell Of a Way To Go"  Bittersweet  (Sugar Hill, 15)
* Richmond Fontaine, "Polaroid"  Post To Wire  (El Cortez, 03)
* Turnpike Troubadours, "Down Here"  Turnpike Troubadours  (Bossier City, 15)  D
* Brent Best, "Career Day"  Your Dog Champ  (Last Chance, 15)
* Wilco, "Where Do I Begin"  Star Wars  (dbPm, 15)  D
* Rayland Baxter, "Mr Rodriguez"  Imaginary Man  (ATO, 15)
* Promised Land Sound, "She Takes Me There"  For Use and Delight  (Paradise of Bachelors, 15)  D
* Iris Dement, "From An Airplane"  Trackless Woods  (Flariella, 15)
* Dale Watson, "Burden Of the Cross"  Call Me Insane  (Red House, 15)
* Honeycutters, "Texas '81"  Me Oh My  (Organic, 15)
* Rod Picott, "Elbow Grease"  Fortune  (Welding Rod, 15)  D
* Ryan Bingham, "Broken Heart Tattoos"  Fear and Saturday Night  (Axster Bingham, 15)

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