Trampled by Turtles

Palomino

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It's hard to come up with a memorable band name that sticks in a listener's head, and on that score alone Trampled by Turtles is worth your time. It's also a moniker that doesn't telegraph the band's sound, nor does it paint the group into a stylistic corner. That said, this Duluth, MN quintet does have a niche, but it's one that the band has carved out all on its own. Call it bluegrass thrash if you like, a rip-snortin', fire-breathin' kind of post-punk folk music that mashes up traditional country picking with a decidedly rock & roll approach. Their energy is so fierce it may take a few tracks before you realize that there's no drummer here, just five guys playing with such driving energy that a drummer is implied by their staccato instrumental prowess. Things kick off with a couple of tunes that almost leave the speakers of your sound system smoking -- "Wait So Long" starts out fast, then goes into overdrive, an angry cry of frustration from a guy who wants to be more than a best friend to his gal. Songwriter, guitarist, and singer Dave Simonett wails his heart out while Ryan Young's supersonic fiddle tosses gasoline on the fire. "It's a War" starts at a high-speed pace and doesn't let up, with Young's fiddle screaming like the siren on a rampaging fire engine. "Help You" is a rock tune played bluegrass style, with Dave Carroll's banjo and Erik Berry's mandolin splitting the solos that would usually be taken by a lead guitar. The band is just as impressive on slow tunes that allow you to appreciate Simonett's songwriting chops. "Again" is a slow, smoky rumination on a self-destructive relationship that burns on even though both lovers know it's a losing proposition, "Separate" is a quirky folk-pop tune with a cryptic lyric and inventive use of rhythm banjo, while "Gasoline" recalls a bluesy Appalachian lament with Carroll's clanging banjo and Simonett's defeated vocal.

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