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Alternate Routes, The - Lately Album Cover
Author's Rating
Vocals 9
Musicianship 8.75
Lyrics 8.5
Production 9
Creativity 8
Lasting Value 8.25
Reviewer Tilt 9
Final Verdict: 86%
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Alternate Routes, The - Lately

Reviewed by: Gregory Robson (10/15/10)
The Alternate Routes - Lately
Record Label: Alternate Routes Records
Release Date: Oct. 9, 2010

As recently as last fall, the Connecticut band The Alternate Routes seemed to be in a most enviable position. Touring in support of their sophomore full-length A Sucker's Dream, the band was chosen as the opening act for Will Hoge's The Wreckage tour. All five band members were content and things seemed fine. Fast forward a year later and the quintet is now just a duo.

Additionally, the band has parted ways with Vanguard Records and is now recording music under their own label, Alternate Routes Records. More often than not such drastic momentum might cripple a band, but it appears this time around, the exact opposite has happened. The duo's latest album, Lately, is by far their best and solid proof that there are very few, if any, roots-rock bands better at crafting earthy melodicism than them.

Lately opens with the two-minute instrumental "Intro," a whir of organ, fuzzy guitars, collapsable drums and lap steel. It's an intoxicating and entrancing affair and the kind of foray that would probably do well in a live setting. That's not to say it falls limp on the disc, there's just an energy at work that seems perfectly suited for a live stage.

The album's first "real" song is the gorgeous "Carry Me Home," a haunting tour-de-force about commitment that's as potent, vibrant and rich as any song released this year. Equal parts a testament to vocalist Tim Warren's impassioned
crooning and Eric Donnelly's searing guitar work, there's a timelessness and a transcendence about every single second. The soaring final two minutes, which burst and explode into a layered tapestry of buoyancy is as remarkable as anything the band has ever done.

"Rocking Chair," kicks from the very first few seconds and never lets up. Fueled by buzzing guitars and snappy drums, there's a swagger and polish at work that's hypnotic, magnetic and downright dynamic. Clearly influenced by the likes of Neil Young, CSNY and The Band, "Rocking Chair," is a punchy and arresting affair that's just the kind of kick in the pants contemporary music needs. "Stay," borrows from the Beatles songbook and swings and swerves with a crisp lucidity that's far too hard to emulate. To put it succinctly, the band just knows their way around a song and knows what the heck they are doing.

The gnomic "Still Can't Get Enough," and "Kiss Me," are gritty and power-packed ditties of adrenaline, lust and sweat. More importantly, they are veritable proof that Donnelly and Warren are a dynamic force to be reckoned with. On the five-minute blues jam "Love The Way," Donnelly takes center stage with a steamy guitar solo, hile Warren throws his vocals into a higher register. Serving as the album's centerpiece, the song also serves more as the band's last will and testament.That is to say if one needed to sum up The Alternate Routes in just one song, this might be the one to do it. The disc's first half ends with the poignant, acoustic hymnal "Lollapalooza," a nocturnal and restrained affair that shows the band's inherent versatility. Equally adept at acoustic material as they are in rowdy bar-room rockers, The Alternate Routes are indeed the complete package.

The disc threatens to lose its way on the self-indulgent "Tell Me Your Name," a song that does little to bolster the band's goals and even less to heighten the album's credibility. In sum, it almost feels like a rehash of tracks 2-6 melted into one big cauldron. While the song has a few inspired moments, there's nothing tremendous, triumphant or entrancing about it. The five-minute groove jam "Just The Same," borrows the same script as its predecessor

As if cognizant that the disc was threatening to buckle under the weight of its own goals, Warren and Donnelly step into their own on the deeply affecting ballad "Raincoat," a paean to solace, comfort and clarity. Accentuated by autumnal guitars, Warren's best vocals to date and a landscape of languor, there's a familiarity at work here that helps make the song that much more powerful. Everyone has at one time felt like they were at the end of their rope and "Raincoat," revisits that sentiment in the most ageless of ways. On the dusty, acoustic offering "Shame," does all the right things and actually chases down something worth remembering but somehow loses its way and just sounds misplaced here.

Whether it should have been earlier in the sequencing or left as a b-side is anyone's guess, but there's just something that feels askew about it. Warren and Donnelly seem to understand that as they segue into the album's apex "Two of a Kind," a soaring ballad about devotion that evokes shades of Boy-era U2 and mid 90's Counting Crows. The album ends with the rollicking "Is It True?," which much like "Love the Way," could probably be stamped with the seal of consummate The Alternate Routes song. Quite simply, this is exactly what the band does well and what few of their contemporaries can match.

Now three albums into a critically lauded career, The Alternate Routes show little signs of slowing down. Even with the attrition of band members, the loss of a label and enough headaches to send most groups into a tail spin, the ever powerful one two punch of Tim Warren and Eric Donnelly knows no bounds. Lately is proof of that.

Track Listing 1. Intro
2. Carry Me Home
3. Rocking Chair
4. Stay
5. Still Can't Get Enough
6. Kiss Me
7. Love the Way
8. Lollapalooza
9. Tell Me Your Name
10. Just the Same
11. Raincoat
12. Shame
13. Two of a Kind
14. Is it True?


Recommended If You Like Augustana, Counting Crows, Will Hoge, Train circa 1999, Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers, The Band


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Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 19
07:38 AM on 10/15/10
#2
Momo32T
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I feel like such an ass for not knowing about the 5-piece becoming just Tim and Eric and that I had no clue about a new album. Definitely going to have to pick this up. Probably the only local band I can take pride in.
07:53 AM on 10/15/10
#3
Gregory Robson
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I feel like such an ass for not knowing about the 5-piece becoming just Tim and Eric and that I had no clue about a new album. Definitely going to have to pick this up. Probably the only local band I can take pride in.
I'm told Sembos and the drummer (his name escapes me) still tour with the band, but in the liner notes they are listed as auxiliary members and only appeared on a couple tracks.
08:04 AM on 10/15/10
#4
Momo32T
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I'm told Sembos and the drummer (his name escapes me) still tour with the band, but in the liner notes they are listed as auxiliary members and only appeared on a couple tracks.
Are the songs "Still Can't Get Enough," and "Kiss Me" the closest things to "The Future's Nothing New", "Toe The Line", and "Are You Lonely?"?
08:06 AM on 10/15/10
#5
Gregory Robson
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Are the songs "Still Can't Get Enough," and "Kiss Me" the closest things to "The Future's Nothing New", "Toe The Line", and "Are You Lonely?"?
More the first two than "Are You Lonely?"
08:12 AM on 10/15/10
#6
Momo32T
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More the first two than "Are You Lonely?"
Good to hear. Although I like their slower songs, I tend to be drawn to them more by their up-tempo songs.
08:13 AM on 10/15/10
#7
Gregory Robson
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Good to hear. Although I like their slower songs, I tend to be drawn to them more by their up-tempo songs.
You will love this one then. 9 up-tempo, 4 ballads.
08:17 AM on 10/15/10
#8
Momo32T
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You will love this one then. 9 up-tempo, 4 ballads.
Good thing I just ordered it online. Also got the live album, the only one I don't have of theirs. What are the odds you and I will be the only ones in this thread?
08:23 AM on 10/15/10
#9
Gregory Robson
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Good thing I just ordered it online. Also got the live album, the only one I don't have of theirs. What are the odds you and I will be the only ones in this thread?
As of now very likely, but hopefully that changes over the weekend.
08:24 AM on 10/15/10
Momo32T
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As of now very likely, but hopefully that changes over the weekend.
By the way, I was born in Manhasset.
08:30 AM on 10/15/10
Gregory Robson
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By the way, I was born in Manhasset.
Mad love to the motherland!!! North Shore University Hospital FTW!
10:46 AM on 10/15/10
northerngypsy
a myriad of bright ideas
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Definitely an awesome album! A Sucker's Dream was one of my favorites of 2009, and this one promises to be up there on my list of 2010 favorites.
11:25 AM on 10/15/10
Gregory Robson
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Definitely an awesome album! A Sucker's Dream was one of my favorites of 2009, and this one promises to be up there on my list of 2010 favorites.
Was a big fan of A Sucker's Dream. And personally, I do think this is better. I do wish it was more concise, but oh well. C'est la vie.
11:50 AM on 10/15/10
S9Dallasoz
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Looks like I'm gonna need to get this.
01:34 PM on 10/17/10
Craig Manning
Down in Jungleland
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Definitely want to check this out.
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