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Saturday, January 30, 2016

ROUTES & BRANCHES
a home for the americana diaspora
January 23, 2016
Scott Foley

Nearly every music blog has a "blogroll" - a list of sites recommended by the blogger.  Mine is just to the right over there.  I try to keep it current, actually using it myself as my launch pad for daily excursions across the web.  That's where I unearth most of the music I debut (D) on R&B.  F'rinstance, the newly revived Nine Bullets introduced me to the Harvest Thieves, an Austin outfit with roots in the band Guns of Navarone (another one I learned about from a former Nine Bullets writer).

Harvest Thieves' full length debut trades in a strain of alt.country somewhere between Old 97s and the Avett Brothers.  I supposed last year brought us some quality alt.country from acts like Turnpike Troubadours and the Banditos, but it's a welcome sound that's not entirely easy to find these days.  Harvest Thieves seem old enough to have absorbed some life lessons, but their sound is decidedly youthful and just this side of irreverent.  Balance this with a veteran swagger and confidence, as well as a truly good sounding record.  In addition to boasting a great title, "Bob Dylan's 78th Hangover" lays out the band's agenda:  Restless drums drive fiddle and guitar, with sweet three part harmonies.  "Your Damn Vanity" continues the pace, a song that wouldn't have sounded out of place on an early 97s record:  I've exhausted my every effort / To beat the shit out of this dead horse.  Pieces such as "Least Of These" and "I Killed Laura Palmer" lean a bit more on the acoustic side of the equation, with the latter opening with a lilting banjo and evolving into classic rock-worthy guitar squall.  From the former:  As it turns out / I don't have the purest heart.  Harvest Thieves are also capable of some unexpected elements, such as the airy keyboards of "Talk Of Surrender" or the perfect female harmonies on tunes like "Predestined Arrangement". Despite the band's polish and production elsewhere, "Upstage On the Front Page" lays down a nice and messy garage stomp.  This sort of looseness contributes an appealing element of the band's sound, coming across like friends who are serious enough about it to care about writing good songs, but who can also enjoy the ride. 
Hell is half full of sinners and spies
The other half's full of men who don't try

* Chuck Ragan & the Comaraderie, "You and I Alone (live)" Winter Haul Live  (Ten Four, 16)
* John Murry, "Southern Sky" Graceless Age  (Evangeline, 13)
* eXcavators, "If the Good Lord's a Good Ol' Boy" eXcavators  (Rusty Knuckles, 16)
* Loretta Lynn, "Everything It Takes" Full Circle  (Sony, 16)
* Hayes Carll, "The Love That We Need" Lovers & Leavers  (Thirty Tigers, 16)  D
* Tift Merritt, "Trouble Over Me" Bramble Rose  (Lost Hwy, 02)
* Green River Ordinance, "Maybe It's Time (Gravity)" Fifteen  (GRO, 15)
* Ryan Adams, "If I Am a Stranger" Cold Roses  (Lost Hwy, 05)
^ Harvest Thieves, "Bob Dylan's 78th Hangover" Rival  (Holy Mt Sounds, 16)  D
* Freakwater, "Bolshevik and Bollweevil" Scheherazade  (Bloodshot, 16)
* Spirit Family Reunion, "Put the Backseat Down" No Separation  (SFR, 12)
* Dylan LeBlanc, "Cautionary Tale" Cautionary Tale  (Thirty Tigers, 16)
* Aoife O'Donovan, "Stanley Park" In the Magic Hour  (Yep Roc, 16)  D
* Blitzen Trapper, "I Am a Man Of Constant Sorrow" Mystery and Wonder  (Vagrant, 16)  D
* Willy Tea Taylor, "Chickamauga" Knuckleball Prime  (Blackwing, 15)
* Quiet Hollers, "Midwestern" Quiet Hollers  (Quiet Hollers, 15)
* Andrew Bryant, "Do What You Love" This Is the Life  (Sleep, 15)
* Margo Price, "About To Find Out" Midwest Farmer's Daughter  (Third Man, 16)
* Songs:Ohia, "Farewell Transmission" Magnolia Electric Co.  (Secretly Canadian, 03)
* Smooth Hound Smith, "Stopgap Woman Blues" Sweet Tennessee Honey  (SHS, 16)
* M Ward, "Confession" More Rain  (Merge, 16)
* Rachel Brooke, "Ghost Of You" World's Greatest Anchor  (Brooks Robbins, 16)  D
* Cactus Blossoms, "No More Crying the Blues" You're Dreaming  (Red House, 16)
* Lucinda Williams, "Dust" Ghosts Of Highway 20  (Hwy 20, 16)
* Robbie Fulks, "Alabama At Night" Upland Stories  (Bloodshot, 16) D
* Two Cow Garage, "All Sins Forgiven" Please Turn the Gas Back On  (Suburban Home, 03)

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