2 Years ago, I never heard of The Alternate Routes from Connecticut. During one of Carbon Leaf’s many tours, the band opened for them since they were on the same label (at the time). They stood out since frontman Tim Warren plays a tool box. Stick a mic in there and shake it up with tools inside, it makes for an interesting drum sound! How very Tom Waits-ish. But after seeing the band live a few times, I’m now a huge fan and think you’ll enjoy their music as well! Their newest album Lately is self-released on their own label Alternate Routes Records/Soundwave and takes the band back to their independent roots.
A Sucker’s Dream was their last full-length studio album and one I believe can’t be topped. It’s just a fantastic album and where I can’t seem to go a few days without listening to it. Lately is an excellent album as well, but my personal opinion is that A Sucker’s Dream is still the leading favorite. Alternate Routes’ sound is hard to describe because they aren’t one specific genre. They play rock and roll, folk rock, jam band rock, blues rock, southern rock and maybe even a little bit of alt-country. Basically when it’s all said and done, they are a rock band.
Lately features 14 tracks and seems more in vain with their earlier stuff, which I don’t have a problem with either. The album starts with a jammy “Intro” and then goes into “Carry Me Home.” The vocals from Tim are fantastic and love when his voice gets high and breaks a little, but breaks in a nice, unique way…if that makes any sense. The song is sweet and a perfect song to start the album off. That one stands out as one of my favorites, along with the tracks that follow. “Rocking Chair” and “Stay” seem like songs that would be a great fit for A Sucker’s Dream or Good & Reckless & True. It’s those type of songs that define The Alternate Routes.
Eric Donnelly’s guitar playing is at the forefront for this album and is really noticeable. The guy has some skill that’s for sure! Tim and Eric are the key members of the group now, as the others have either left the band for other ventures or just play with the band live. Regardless of who’s playing with them, doesn’t sound like they are going to throw in the towel anytime soon. The production of the album is pretty good, especially for an independent release. I think some songs could have been better in that area but perhaps I’m just nitpicking?
The first half of the album is very strong and has a lot of their signature rock stuff, and the second half ventures into other territories. Not really a fan of the track “Lollapalooza” and it seems a bit out of placed with the rest of the album. It’s a bit too slow for my liking. But, another slow song on the album, “Raincoat,” is a song I dig. Tim’s vocals are fitting for both fast and slow songs. It usually takes me a few listens to appreciate the slower stuff, for any band. For that track, I particularly like the chorus and the subtle “ahhhh’s” in the background. The album ends on a strong note with the song “Is This True.” Besides “Carry Me Home,” that track could be another favorite.
Overall, this album starts off strong, kind of slows down a bit in the middle and finishes strong. I would have spaced out the up-tempo tracks better but that’s just an opinion. I still feel their previous albums are better but this one is definitely great and worth owning if you like the band. Even if you don’t know who Alt Routes are, visit their MySpace page and check out some songs. If you like them, see the band live because you’ll really appreciate their music then!
Bottom Line: A great follow-up to A Sucker’s Dream!
Notable Tracks: Carry Me Home, Rocking Chair, Stay, Still Can’t Get Enough, Is This True