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Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v07n19)
Rick on the Records - by Rick Zeigler
posted: Sept. 17, 2010

Rick on the Records header

TRAMPLED BY TURTLES-PALOMINO
Trampled By Turtles have been around for seven years, but Palomino, their fifth album, is their first to get nationwide release. And it is a bluegrass treat. Hailing from Duluth, MN, the five members of Trampled By Turtles play bluegrass with a frenetic, crazed energy bordering on punk rock. But make no mistake, this is bluegrass music of the highest caliber. Employing the standard instrumental lineup of acoustic guitar, bass, banjo, mandolin, and fiddle, the twelve cuts on Palomino (all penned by leader and lead vocalist Dave Simonett, save for the two instrumentals) cover traditional bluegrass territory of fiery instrumentals, virtuoso fast-paced vocal cuts, and downcast ballads. But the key ingredient for the band, as it is for any bluegrass group worth its salt, is the instrumental prowess of the players. In this regard, particular mention must be given to the blazing banjo work of Dave Carroll, with Ryan Young's lightning-fast fiddle also a highlight. The disc opens with "Wait So Long," characterized by the crazy-fast banjo of Carroll and a wild violin solo by Young in the middle. Simonett's vocals do not try to echo the "high lonesome" sound of so many bluegrass groups, taking a more naturalistic/country approach. And while the subject matter (primarily about young or doomed relationships) will be familiar to any lover of the genre, there are phrases that reveal a more "modern" approach to material, as when Simonett sings of his lover's "heart like a frozen freight train". Second track, "Victory," is a country hoe-down romp with Simonett singing mournfully of his lover that it "feels like your hands are nailed to the ground," but also injecting that "the stars, they whisper blessings, babe, as you walk by". "It's A War" follows, another blazingly fast showcase for banjo, fiddle, and the mandolin stylings of Erik Berry. A change-up is thrown into the mix with "Bloodshot Eyes," a slow, harmonica-led bluesy number, with Simonett, sounding a little like Townes Van Zandt, singing, "I've tried every bottle, every pill that I know/But time, baby, time, works better than wine." The group says that most of the tracks were first takes in order to try and capture the energy of a live performance, and they have admirably succeeded in that task. Indeed, they have created one of the finest modern bluegrass recordings in recent memory. And fortunately for us, we can witness their live performance at the end of this month, as they will be playing at Birdy's on September 30th, 2010. Hope to see you there.

TROMBONE SHORTY-BACKATOWN
Backatown creates a dilemma for any record store owner (or record store shopper)-where to file it? Equal parts New Orleans jazz, southern marching bands(!), soul, r & b, hip-hop, and rock, this is a release that defies easy characterization. Trombone Shorty (aka Troy Andrews) himself, defies such characterization, as he has led bands in New Orleans since the age of six, but has also played with Lenny Kravitz, Green Day, U2, and the Meters, to name just a few. Infused with loops and samples, but also firmly within the New Orleans tradition (including an appearance by the legendary Allen Toussaint on his own "On Your Way Down"), Backatown is a hip-swinging, varied treat from start to finish. Opener "Hurricane Season" starts things off with its funky jazz stylings punctuated by a stripped down middle in which Shorty takes a beautiful trumpet solo. "Something Beautiful" (with guest guitar from Lenny Kravitz) would sound perfectly placed on a classic Gladys Knight album, while the title cut is a funky trombone showcase. "Suburbia" juxtaposes heavy metal guitar riffs with rapid-fire New Orleans style hornplay, while "One Night Only" is smooth soul of the highest order. If there is one complaint, it is that the songs are too short (the longest being just under four minutes), which limits the degree to which Shorty can show off his outstanding chops. With an album this original and varied (and outstandingly produced by Galactic's Ben Elman), however, this is a minor quibble. With his good looks and vocal abilities, Shorty seems poised for stardom (he's also a regular on the HBO series Treme). Backatown is the evidence that he is deserving of whatever accolades come his way.


Rick Zeigler, along with his wife, Jeanne, owns Indy CD and Vinyl at 806 Broad Ripple Avenue. Back in his musician days, his band opened for the likes of U2, XTC, Gang Of Four, The Pretenders, Los Lobos, and, um, Flock Of Seagulls, among others. You can read all of Rick's reviews at www.indycdandvinyl.com. Email your music questions and comments to rick@BroadRippleGazette.com




rick@broadripplegazette.com
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