Roots Music Recap - The Latest In Roots Music

Rather than let some music go unnoticed and lost, we proudly have pulled together this collection of newly released albums from Americana, country, folk and bluegrass genres. We hope you take a look here and learn about some new music you may not have otherwise known about!

We love listeing to music here at the Roughstock offices and sometimes we get so much music that can get lost in the shuffle. Rather than let it get lost, we've come up with a way to make sure it all gets some sort of representation. So with that in mind, we debut this new feature called The Roots Music Recap, a look at recent releases from Americana, country, folk and Bluegrass music. We hope you enjoy this rundown as much as we enjoyed putting it together.

I See Hawks In L.A. - New Kind of Lonely (Western Seed Records)

I See Hawks In LA consider their band name “an invitation, if you see hawks maybe we should talk.” Their music reflects that same sentiment. Their are a band that always follows their own weird muse to stories that are familiar, but slightly off kilter, featuring characters the listener may have seen but likely has not gotten to know. Yet their music is inviting, a laid back and well played variety of country that has been long missed and lamented. New Kind Of Lonely is an album to listen to and mull over, but it is also an album to simply enjoy. - Stormy Lewis

Katie Grace - Best Bad Girl (Inside Outlaw Records)

Gifted with a voice that is as strong as Kimberly Perry of the Band Perry, Katie Grace is a Detroit-based neo-traditional country/folk singer/songwriter. On Best Bad Girl she showcases a tender side on tunes like the title track and some kick-ass attitude on “Wine On The Workdays, Whiskey On The Weekends.” Nothing here’s overtly mainstream yet nothing on here would sound out of place on mainstream country radio but its likely landing spot is AAA or Americana. A similar artist would be Sonia Leigh. - Matt Bjorke

Great American Taxi - Paradise Lost (GATRecords)

In a lot of ways Great American Taxi is your average, mid-temp country rock band that makes up so much of Americana today. However, their sound winds up far away from average, and on Paradise Lost they use it to their advantage. Likewise, the state of the country today is not a particularly unique subject for an Americana act, however, Great American Taxi brings a fresh and beautiful perspective to the matter at hand. Paradise Lost is a wonderful album of American heart and soul. - Stormy Lewis

The Vespers - The Fourth Wall (Black Suit Records)

The Vespers are a wonderful band who deserve all of the buzz that has been creeping up around them. While not quite reaching the underground fame of an Allison Krauss, or even The Civil Wars, they are well on their way to being the next Sarah Jarosz. They are a true bluegrass band, and, while there may be some poppier elements in the genre, it is still a genre you cannot fake. Vocals must be evocative and free of studio tricks. Harmonies must be tight and creative, pulling from major and minor chords to create differing moods for the story of the song. The instrumentals must be fast and flawless. The standards for the genre are high. The Vespers definitely belong to the poppier side of Bluegrass, and they may be a little too sweet and pretty for fans of the darker stuff. However, for fans of newer Bluegrass, they are certain to help fill the void left by Nickle Creek. - Stormy Lewis

Cody Johnson - A Different Day (Independent)

A lot of the songs on Cody Johnson’s A Different Day sound like they are from another era. This is largely because it hits a lot of the same notes that country music used to deal with. The political statements are fused seamlessly into the songs and, while they may seem dated to more liberal listeners, they are all pro-working class sentiments. There was a time when that was the only thing that both liberals and conservatives agreed on. A Different Day is a striking reminder of when country music was actually made by people from the country. - Stormy Lewis

Roger Creager - Surrender (Fun All Wrong Records)

Surrender is not the signature album from Roger Crager, it is not his Red Headed Stranger. By that way of thinking, Creager is closer to the albums signature in that he does everything on the album you expect form his, and very little beyond that. For the most part, however, what he does is enough. Certainly, there is nothing on the album that drags and nothing that completely bored. There are a few tracks that are more white noise than we would normally expect from Creager. However, Surrender is still a Roger Creager album, and if you are looking for a slice of good, old fashioned, country music, you can’t do much better than that. -Stormy Lewis

The Hobart Brothers and Little Sis Hobart - At Least We Have Each Other (Freedom Records)

There are movies known as Sleepers. They are films that no one really expects to generate any money or make any real sort of splash. The longer that they stay in theaters, the more money they make, word of mouth causing more and more people to buy tickets until they overtake the major blockbusters. At Least We Have Each Other is a sleeper album. It is a quiet album that requires multiple listens until the day that you find yourself recommending it to all of your friends. It is an album that crawls into your head and stays with you long after the final note. - Stormy Lewis

Julie Lee & the Baby Daddies - Julie Lee & the Baby Daddies (Still House Road Music)

The songs on Julie Lee and the Baby Daddies run the gamut from the sacred to the pedestrian, often using subjects and source material that are just a little bit off kilter. Childhood memories of older sisters and Christine Rossetti poems are not the usual stuff of Bluegrass ballads, but then again, Julie Lee is not the average Bluegrass singer. Her humor and warmth elevate her songs, even when she occasionally slips into the cliche or the clunky. The album is full of the plain and simple joy that Lee finds in making music. Its a joy that spreads through her band mates and spills over to the listeners. Julie Lee and the Baby Daddies may be the most fun you have listening to Bluegrass this year. - Stormy Lewis

Katie Glassman - Snapshot (independent)

Jazzy and spirited on tracks like the opener “Uncle John,” “Snapshot,” and “Ma Liason Avec France” (My liaison with France), solumn and traditional on “Fly Away Little Girl,” “Rain, Rain” and “Goodbye Mister Heartache,” Katie Glassman is certantly an interesting throwback to a bygone era. A master fiddle player, Glassman’s music - most of it written by her - is hard to classify so lets just call it what it is, just damn good. Sam Bush is one of the many noted guests (the other are jass and classical artists) on Snapshot. - Matt Bjorke

Speical Consensus - Scratch Gravel Road (Compass Records)

One of the best bands in a sea of great musicans, Speical Consensus has been touring the USA since the mid 1970s and while many of the bands have changed over the years, Speical Consensus has remained, well, special. On Scratch Gravel Road the band tackles standard bluegrass fare with strong solos throughout and rips through great material like the Harley Allen classic “A Good Problem To Have,” Craig Market’s “Monroe” and Tim Stafford’s “Shoulda Took A Train.” It’s a great album and likely to be one of the better bluegrass releases of the year. - Matt Bjorke

Michael and the Lonesome Playboys - Last of the Honky Tonks (Black Water Records)

I wanted to write how much I didn’t like this album (Because when I first listened to it, I didn’t) but after giving Michael Ulbaldini and his band another shot for this article, what I heard is classic country, rock and folk music from a bygone era (this stuff would’ve been all over the radio in the 50s and 60s). While not music I’d reach for on a routine basis, it will nonetheless appeal to those that yearn for good new music that recalls the ‘good ole days’ (even if you weren’t alive for them) and that’s something to champion. - Matt Bjorke

Jon Cleary - Occapella (Tribute to Allen Toussaint) (FHQ Records)

Tribute albums are a generally a fairly safe bet. A few turn out amazing, but then again very few turn out truly badly either. For the most part they are safe and forgettable. The bigger the name, the more bland their tributes tend to be. When a song or an artist are iconic, other artists tend to get nervous about doing anything new or different with the material. Toussaint isn’t a household name, but, among other musicians, and inside the city of New Orleans, he is about as big as an artist gets. And, for Cleary, this album was obviously a passion project. However, Cleary has always said that he considered the work more a matter of “having fun with the songs of Allen Toussaint” than an actual tribute album. This gives him the freedom to simply do what is best for the song, without worrying about the versions that came before it. That makes Occapella a fun filled celebration of the songs of Allen Toussaint. - Stormy Lewis

Lonesome River Band - Chronology Volume One (Rural Rhythm Records)

Lonesome River Band, like Special Consensus, have been working for decades now and on this eight track album, the current configuration of the legendary bluegrass outfit takes on some of the band’s best, most well-known songs from the first decade of their career. Two more albums will be released throughout 2012 that will cover the second and third decades of their career as well. Listening to this album, Sammy Shelor and company deliver sterling performances on “I’m Afraid To Love You Anymore,” “Hobo Blues” and “The Game Is Over” (just to name a few). - Matt Bjorke

Various Artists - Music City Roots, Vol. 1 (Compass Records)

This fantastic collection of songs features a who’s-who of roots music in Nashville, including the late Charlie Louvin (“See The Big Man Cry”), Jim Lauderdale (“I Will Wait For You”), “Caitlin Rose “Sinful Wishing Well” and Nanci Griffith (“Listen to the Radio”). There aren’t any bad tracks to be had on Music City Roots, Vol. 1 and if you’re looking for a microscope document of the happenings of this fantastic show filmed/recorded live from the famed Loveless Barn at The Loveless Cafe. - Matt Bjorke