Trampled By Turtles
Avett Brothers, Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt
On the surface, Trampled By Turtles appears very old fashioned. A string band in every sense of the word; banjo, mandolin and violins accompanying the acoustic guitars of front man Dave Simonett and four part harmonies nestle in the midst of seemingly traditional folk ballads. Upon closer listen though, the sheer intensity and rapid fire tempo that the group achieve within this context speak more to a rock band sans electricity or, more precisely, a hoedown on fire.
Formed in 2003, the 5 members that make up Trampled By Turtles all had their share of time spent playing in punk bands and rock outfits, plugging in and firing up crowds around their home base of Duluth, MN. Stepping into an acoustic setting, the band must find the irony in their slow stepping namesake, delivering instead a rash and feverishly bold style of bluegrass folk. Even within a seemingly dated genre, the group is anything but, employing their punk aesthetics into the traditional model with an immediate and forceful sound steeped in the past, but accessibly brilliant.
If you've never been taken with "old timey music" before, the band's latest release, Palomino, is the best place to start. The blistering wails and pounding acoustic rhythm of opener, "Wait So Long," and the plucking banjo that guides the sweet harmonies of "Victory" mesh with the desolate emotional tides of ballads and swaying reveries alike. Simonett and fellows are so precise on the strings and pitch perfect on the record, they might as well have stepped off the hay truck at the height of the Great Depression. Live, the band is even more unbelievable, mostly a blur of strumming instruments and stomping feet, drawing crowds through a dedicated word of mouth base and burning through their extensive catalogue. Coming off a recent Coachella performance and touring through the summer, Trampled By Turtles are on the move at record pace.