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The Alternate Routes
Lately
Vanguard Records
www.thealternateroutes.com


My initial introduction to the band The Alternate Routes was exquisite. Their album Sucker's Dream was a perfect sophomore album (not counting the EP's). The quality of music was youthful and varied. Even though there wasn't a solid thread throughout that solidified the album, each song had its own strength to carry itself (in a good way). So when word came down that the band was working on a new record, excitement grew.

This fall gets to see how the band has matured and grown on their latest album, Lately. A selection of 14 songs that not only show a set of skills being finely tuned but a sense of awareness to their audience and the life movements they might be going through.

It's actually rare to have an album actually have a song titled "Intro", but that's exactly what it has. This is the way Tim Warren and the boys do rock. The raw knarling of a lead guitar, a delicate ween of a blues guitar and an accompanying bass groove; no vocals, just all-out insanity. They get you all pumped up, just to lead you into "Carry Me Home", a song that uses the lightest guitar plucks as a harmony element to go with the duel, almost angelic, vocals. When the song breaks out, it busts through with solid drum beats and an electric guitar fine tuning on the higher notes. There's a slight feeling of overall uplifting and high energy, sort of like what you'd get after a Coldplay or Goo Goo Dolls concert.

With the song "Stay" the tone turns almost brutally honest. The opening riffs are bold and clearly defined, and lacking really any additional instruments. The vocals (though with female additions) are stripped down and straight forward. Eventually the tone lifts slightly to a Tom Petty level, tugging at the heart strings and coming from the gut. But all in all the song remains on the simple side. "Kiss Me" is an extremely fun song. It's a perfect example of taking the previous sound from the guys (say "On And On We Whisper") and kicking up another grade. You've still got the crazy catchy hooks, however this time they have a strong bass and guitar line to follow. The vocals are very old school rock and chock full of attitude. A few guitar solos come piercing through the speakers, making for (what I can only imagine) an extremely fun to play song.

For a favorite, the selection would have to go to "Lollapalooza". Open porches, swaying trees and a lazy day afternoon is the perfect setting for this song. A few guitars showcasing; one for the acoustic solo, one for the folk-ish rhythm and yet another for bringing out that blues ween just ever so quietly in the background (perhaps done with a violin bow, or an actual violin?). The drummer - well he's having fun with everything but the normal elements of his kit. A light beat is there from the kick drum, but the key players are the sleigh bells and a shaker. And the best part of the whole song: "Lollapalooooooooza ready to ride/let somebody else drive" - a set of lyrics that when sung over the acoustic guitar notes are perfection. And a set that will get stuck in your head, so be prepared.

"Two Of A Kind" is another song that stands out and it's possibly because of its intro. Electric guitars gradually building intensity in the most beautiful way, leveling off with Tim's silky voice beginning to tell a story. A rush of emotion comes with this song the way U2 tends to evoke in their numbers. The members on stage with their various roles in this song feel as though they're doing a waltz around each other. No particular person taking point, yet continuously intermixing with each other. The pitches are very high, for everyone, but it's almost as though to lift you above the song for a better look. The ending drops off slowly and without a true "period" if you will. That could be in an attempt to coerce you to hit the Repeat button.

This is a strong step in the journey of The Alternate Routes and is an excellent example of their talent.

-Rachel Fredrickson

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