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Monday, January 15, 2018

ROUTES & BRANCHES  
featuring the very best of americana, alt.country and roots music
January 14, 2018
Scott Foley, purveyor of dust

If you've spent some time with our ROUTES-cast below (*), you know I'm fond of A Routes & Branches Guide To Feeding Your Monster.  That's our release calendar to which you can connect via the link to the right.  I'll always say that it'll assure you'll never miss another obscure roots music release.  Heh.  Anyway, Routes & Branches is driven by novelty, focused on the frontiers of our kind of music.  And this time of year we begin to get a good sense of what our Spring might sound like.  So for this week's posting I thought we'd focus on what's forthcoming, some of the stuff I'm looking forward to most.  There's a real good chance I'll devote a full review to most if not all of these, once I have access to the complete CD.  Until then, some thoughts on what we've heard to date.

HC McEntire, Lionheart  (Merge, Jan 26)  I loved both Miracle Temple and How to Dance, Mount Moriah's last couple records.  File them alongside fellow North Carolinian Hiss Golden Messenger for smart, tuneful roots with a shot of true soul.  McEntire's debut solo record reportedly amplifies that soul, while speaking more boldly as a lesbian in the Southern US.  She might be our next Alynda Lee Segarra.  Extra heft is contributed by studio guests Tift Merritt, Angel Olsen, Phil Cook and others.

What we've heard: "A Lamb A Dove", "Quartz in the Valley"

Mike & the Moonpies, Steak Night at the Prairie Rose  (Moonpies, Feb 2)  The last couple years have seen Austin's Mike Harmeier and co. increasingly praised for their steady strength as a live act.  Their fifth studio set seeks to package that honky tonk spirit, favoring spark and drive over studio perfection.  "Beaches of Biloxi" and "Road Crew" (and their recent single, "Country Music is Dead") find the Moonpies staking their claim more confidently than ever before.

What we've heard: "Beaches of Biloxi", "Road Crew"

Richmond Fontaine, Don't Skip Out on Me  (Fluff & Gravy, Feb 2)  With the release of 2016's You Can't Go Back ... Willy Vlautin and his band packed up the plantation.  In light of the pending publication of the frontman's new novel, the band came back together to record an instrumental soundtrack to the book of the same name.  I've had the privilege of hearing the whole CD, but haven't gotten my hands on the novel.  That said, Richmond Fontaine have become expert at generating a mood or painting a picture using nothing more than a pedal steel and guitars.

What we've heard:  "Horace Hopper", "Dream of the City and the City Itself"


Caleb Caudle, Crushed Coins  (Cornelius Chapel, Feb 23)  Probably looking forward to this collection more than any other during these early days of the year.  On the heels of Paint Another Layer and Carolina Ghost, this could be his moment to shine.  To my ear, Caudle plays at the intersection of Justin Townes Earle and Jason Isbell, demonstrated a masterful way with a simple song.  He's recently commented that Ghost is about as country as he'll get, and early singles hint at some new musical directions (plus, producer Jon Ashley's resume features work with Hiss Golden Messenger and War on Drugs).

What we've heard:  "Empty Arms", "Love That's Wild"


Sue Foley, Ice Queen  (Stony Plain, Mar 2)  This one's a surprise even for me.  The Canadian Foley (yeah, no relation) has been a student of fellow blues guitarists since her teen years.  I've been trying to avoid the blues since I was a teenager.  So ...  But Foley's a fine writer whose talent overflows the genre buckets, and a singer whose roadworn and weary voice can move mountains.  Guests include folks she's admired and with whom she's collaborated during her years in Austin, such as Billy Gibbons, Jimmie Vaughan and Charlie Sexton.

What we've heard: "Come to Me"

6 String Drag, Top of the World  (Schoolkids, Mar 9)  This Episode features a song from a remastered 1997 record originally produced by Steve Earle.  Way back then, Kenny Roby and Rob Keller helped birth what we know today as alt.country. After many years on the shelf, the stuff still sounds sweet and slightly dangerous.  This will be their second project to hit shelves following the band's hiatus of nearly 2 decades.

What we've heard:  nada



... and so very many more!  Calexico, Fruition, Ruby Boots, JD Wilkes, Erika Wennerstrom, American Aquarium, Austin Lucas (2 albums!) ...

- Ron Pope, "Southern Cross" Ron Pope & the Nighthawks  (Brooklyn Basement, 16)
- Ron Pope, "Figure it Out" Worktapes  (Brooklyn Basement, 18)  D
^- Caleb Caudle, "Love That's Wild" Crushed Coins  (Cornelius Chapel, 18)
- Anderson East, "Somebody Pick Up My Pieces" Encore  (Elektra, 18)
^ Sue Foley w/Charlie Sexton, "Come to Me" Ice Queen  (Stony Plain, 18)
- Danny & the Champions of the World, "Gotta Get Things Right in My Life" Brilliant Light  (Loose, 17)
- Fruition, "Northern Town" Watching it All Fall Apart  (LoHi, 18)
- Wood Brothers, "Happiness Jones" One Drop of Truth  (Honey Jar, 18)
- Townes Van Zandt, "St John the Gambler" Our Mother the Mountain  (Fat Possum, 69)
- Nathaninel Rateliff & Night Sweats, "You Worry Me" Tearing at the Seams  (Concord, 18)  D
- Samantha Fish, "American Dream" Belle of the West  (RufRecords, 17)  D
- Marie/Lepanto, "Famished Raven" Tenkiller  (Big Legal Mess, 18)
- Low Anthem, "Ghost Woman Blues" Smart Flesh  (Nonesuch, 10)
-^ 6 String Drag, "Bottle of Blues" High Hat  (Schoolkids, 97/18)  D
- Erika Wennerstrom, "Extraordinary Love" Sweet Unknown  (Partisan, 18)  D
- Jason Boland & the Stragglers, "Proud Souls" Pearl Snaps  (Proud Souls, 99)
^ Richmond Fontaine, "Dream of the City and the City Itself" Don't Skip Out On Me  (Fluff & Gravy, 18)
- Kim Richey w/Chuck Prophet, "Whistle on Occasion" Edgeland  (Yep Roc, 18)  D
^ Mike & the Moonpies, "Road Crew" Steak Night at the Prairie Rose  (Moonpies, 18)
- Jeff Hyde, "Henry Ford" Norman Rockwell World  (Hyde, 18)  D
- Drag the River, "Waste of Time Valentine" Drag the River  (Xtra Mile, 13)
- Ryan Bingham, "How Shall a Sparrow Fly" Hostiles (Sndtk)  (Axster Bingham, 18)  D
- First Aid Kit, "Ruins" Ruins  (Columbia, 18)
- Angel Olsen, "Tougher Than the Rest" Phases  (Jagjaguwar, 18)
^ HC McEntire, "Quartz in the Valley" Lionheart  (Merge, 18)
- Richard Buckner, "Born Into Giving It Up" Impasse  (Merge, 02)
- Courtney Marie Andrews, "May Your Kindness Remain" May Your Kindness Remain  (Mama Bird, 18)  D
- Alela Diane, "Ether & Wood" Cusp  (Alela, 18)
- Chris Knight, "Hard Edges" Trailer Tapes  (Drifter's Church, 07)
- Porter & the Bluebonnet Rattlesnakes, "November Down" Don't Go Baby  (Cornelius Chapel, 17)

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