Stars and Satellites
Trampled by Turtle’s 2012 release opens with “Midnight on the Interstate,” where over acoustic guitar, mandolin, bass, and banjo, Dave Simonett somberly sings about spending much of his life looking out of tour-bus windows. And as the next song’s simple title suggests, “Alone” is another mournful musing. But with rootsy instruments picking and chiming under flowing vocal harmonies, the Duluth, Minn., quintet somehow makes loneliness sound stunningly beautiful—especially toward the tune's end, when it crescendos into a near-symphonic climax. Some may call Trampled by Turtles’ music “newgrass,” but it’s refreshing to hear a progressive bluegrass band that doesn’t sound so . . . progressive. The more upbeat “Walt Whitman” is a good example of this. While the playing and picking innovatively transcend musical borders, the song’s arrangements are by no means overly complicated or pedantically show-offish. “Sorry” is another buoyant standout, with barn-burning banjo picking and fiery mandolin balanced against moderate fiddle notes.