Sunday Morning Music: Trampled by Turtles Live
by Cat Johnson
I’ll admit, it took me a while to warm up to this band’s name. The phrase Trampled by Turtles is kind of clever and cute but it doesn’t have that weathered, old-time flair that signals to me there’s going to be some heartbreak, sweet picking, and songs about hard-living. It was somewhere around the band’s third or fourth album that I tuned in to what they were doing. And I liked it. Not all of it, but enough to start digging through their catalog looking for the gems.
Judging from YouTube views, the TBT track that people like the most is “Wait So Long.” I like it fine, but the hell-fire pace they play at sacrifices some of the nuance of the song. But, I see why people love it. The band’s standout track for me is “Midnight on the Interstate.” A slower, banjo-and fiddle-tinged song with images of loneliness, changing times, and the road, the song strikes a nice balance of beauty and hurt.
Other favorites, including “Gasoline” and “Bloodshot Eyes,” made it onto the recently-released live album, Live at First Avenue. Recorded in the band’s hometown of Minneapolis, the album is a snapshot of the band doing what they do best: playing catchy, heartfelt jams that get people jumping or swaying.
As far as live albums go, it’s really lovely. The recording is clean and warm and the band sounds, as usual, totally on-point without being stiff. Released as both a CD/DVD combo and vinyl/DVD combo, Live at First Avenue acts as encapsulation of what the band has done up to this point. Surprise additions are covers of the Pixies’ “Where is My Mind” on the CD and vinyl and a cover of Faces’ “Ooh La La” on the dvd.
Recommended for those who are already on the Trampled By Turtles train as well as new roots fans who like the raw energy of live recordings.