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Friday, November 13, 2015

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

It's my contention that, no matter what line of work you're in, everybody has work nightmares.  Baristas have coffee nightmares.  Construction workers have construction nightmares.  I have DJ night terrors.  I toss and turn at the mercy of fantasies of dead air, malfunctioning equipment, and the curious inability to stay awake while on the air.  This week's Episode featured one of those DJ nightmares come to life.  I prepare most of my broadcast on my laptop, which is magically connected to the airwaves via a little board with myriad knobs and slides.  This week, that board simply refused to function (hence, the distant whisper that was Deer Tick, punctuated by moments of feedback that was me grasping for random knobs).  I was able to rescue things by resorting to "Plan B", and fumbled along through what might've otherwise been a near horror show.  Perhaps next week I'll have a stroke on air ...

Otherwise, some fine stuff here.  Why haven't I played more of Ashley Monroe's record?  Some really good writing for a mainstream release.  Also hailing from the country mainstream is Eric Church's surprise album, featuring more worthy writing (and continuing to make me wonder what Church could do with a producer like Dave Cobb at the helm).  On the other end of the spectrum are our first glimpses into forthcoming gems from Mekons and Freakwater (that's right, Freakwater!).

Plus, we present an immediate candidate for record of the year in Joey Kneiser's new solo collection, The Wildness.  Kneiser has spent the majority of his career in service of the sadly under-the-radar band Glossary.  From Murfreesboro, TN, Glossary released seven records that expertly drew a line between Midwest rock and Southern soul.  Fact is, we've been starved for new stuff since 2011's masterful Long Live All Of Us.  Kneiser's newly released songs tip the musical balance in favor of the rock side of the equation, though in all honesty The Wildness might've been issued as a band project and nobody would've noticed otherwise.

The collection launches with the Petty-esque blast of "Run Like Hell":  The only truth we've ever known / Lives on the records that we stole / Finds its way to you / On the nights you feel alone.  Fellow Glossary member Kelly Kneiser (also Joey's former spouse) contributes backing vocals that add an air of gospel to the number.  The title cut continues the anthem to the healing powers of good records:  All the lonely boys / Sing the songs the lonely girls write / And all the lonely girls / Want a lonely boy to spend the night.  Reckless guitar rings above these songs with indelible hooks.  The deep soul is inescapable on pieces like "To My Younger Self" or "Analog Rain".  Full band rockers share the space with more intense, acoustic songs.

The Wildness rocks as well as it drips with soul, a record that beats with a romantic heart and bows to the altar of rock 'n roll.  Joey Kneiser stamps his card as a lyrical laureate with lines that found me reaching for rewind and fully expecting a healing experience:  Go find what you love / And let it heal you boy.  

* Deer Tick, "Long Time"  War Elephant  (Partison, 07)
* Yawpers, "Beale Street"  American Man  (Bloodshot, 15) C
* David Wax Museum, "Singing To Me"  Guesthouse  (Thirty Tigers, 15)
* Israel Nash, "Rag and Bone Man"  Silver Season  (Loose, 15)
* Alejandro Escovedo, "San Antonio Rain"  Big Station  (Fantasy, 12)
* Ashley Monroe, "If the Devil Don't Want Me"  The Blade  (Warner, 15)
* Jason Boland & the Stragglers, "Break 19"  Squelch  (Thirty Tigers, 15)
* Aaron Lee Tasjan, "Dangerous Kind"  In the Blazes  (First of 3, 15)
^ Joey Kneiser, "The Wildness"  The Wildness  (This Is American Music, 15)  D
* Shinyribs, "Donut Taco Palace"  Okra Candy  (Mustard Lid, 15)
* Freakwater, "Asp & the Albatross"  Scheherazade  (Bloodshot, 16)  D
* Southern Culture On the Skids, "Wish I Was In Love"  For Lovers Only  (Safe House, 92)
* Mekons w/Robbie Fulks, "Beaten & Broken"  Jura  (Bloodshot, 15)  D
* Scott H Biram, "When I Die"  Nothin' But Blood  (Bloodshot, 14)
* Lucinda Williams, "Lake Charles"  Car Wheels On a Gravel Road  (Island, 98)
* Drive-by Truckers, "Three Dimes Down (live)"  It's Great To Be Alive!  (ATO, 15)
* Son Volt, "Looking At the World Through a Windshield (live)"  Trace (20th Anniv. Edition)  (Rhino, 15)
* Hellbound Glory, "Bar Room Beauty"  Damaged Goods  (Rusty Knuckles, 11)
* Willy Tea Taylor, "Bull Riders & Songwriters"  Knuckleball Prime  (Blackwing, 15)
* Delines, "Gold Dreaming"  Scenic Sessions  (El Cortez, 15)
* Chris Stapleton, "Tennessee Whiskey"  Traveller  (Mercury, 15)
* Eric Church, "Knives Of New Orleans"  Mr. Misunderstood  (EMI, 15)  D
* Dan Baird & Homemade Sin, "Country Black"  Get Loud  (Dan Baird, 15)
* Blasters, "Jubilee Train"  Non Fiction  (Slash, 83)
* Simone Felice, "Radio Song (live)"  From the Violent Banks Of the Kaaterskill  (Mighty Hudson, 15)  D
* Alabama Shakes, "Joe (live)"  single  (ATO, 15)  D
* Mount Moriah, "Cardinal Cross"  How To Dance  (Merge, 16)  D
* Jeffrey Foucault, "Jesus Will Fix It For You"  Salt As Wolves  (Blueblade, 15)

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