I adored Stars and Satellites and when I saw them play at Outside Lands in San Francisco I was beside myself when I realized, just how good they really are live. When I reviewed their album in May I thought this band that has been together since 2004 had been too far under the radar.
The album is beautifully constructed and goes from ballad style songs to instrumentals flying at a frenetic pace like a meth addict in New York for the first time. They simply are too good to be this unrecognized. This is a band that’s been together since 2004, released several albums and has played such festivals as Coachella, Bonnaroo and Lollapolooza. Yet, not a peep did I hear. They’ve been on Letterman and the AV Club, but nada. So I’ve gone back and looked at their discography and wow, just wow. From their cover of the Pixies, “Where is My Mind” to Palomino to Songs From a Ghost Town, Trampled by Turtles are phenomenal.
I felt at the time that maybe I was being a little hyperbolic because not many great albums had surfaced yet. As it runs out I wasn’t, the album is stands up and while many critics loved they quickly moved on from this bluegrass, alt-country, and indie group. Critics are fickle that way. After listening to it again while putting together this list I realized that it truly was one of the best albums of the year. It’s subtle when it needs to be and fiery when it can be. It is everything we’ve come to expect from the modern day bluegrass scene and more, because it doesn’t get mired in the tradition of it all.
Tradition can only take you so far, at some point you have to make something modern out of an old form or be relegated to nothing more than a rip-off artist from a bygone era. The modern bluegrass artists like Trampled by Turtles, The Avett Brothers and Ocean Carolina are taking things to a new level and that’s why their albums are resonating so strongly with lovers of a genre that for about 30 years ceased to create a blip in the radar. That is why Trampled by Turtles album Stars and Satellites is on this list and why I love it so.