Growing up, my parents would bribe me and my brother with the promise of candy in return for forcing green, alien vegetables down our throats for every meal. My younger brother Billy was not a fan of eating leafy unknown nuggets the size of his fist, so if he wanted his sugar rush he had to do it the American way… by stealing it. But he wouldn’t take just one. He gathered up all of Little Debbie’s good friends like Nutty, Star Crunch, and his personal favorite Swiss Cake. This chocolate concoction would lead to what would forever be called … the Psycho-Billy. I only mention this to say, if my mother would have owned a banjo and placed it in Psycho-Billy’s hands, he could have matched step for step with the death march that is Trampled by Turtles.
Trampled by Turtles is no ordinary bluegrass band, but it doesn’t take its fifth studio album and debut release for Thirty Tigers Records, Palomino, to prove this. What did you expect when you take five guys who, up until 2003, had never played a string instrument? The Psycho-Billy shakedown has been brewing for years.
The speed didn’t stop once the Minnesota quintet got off the road and into the studio. "Wait so Long" starts us off where the group likely left off at some recently renovated theater in another unknown city the night before … with tuning. Yet a dozen seconds after they realize the banjo being in tune is all relative, they storm into a barn burner that preaches to the missed moments it takes to make love come together.
It’s easy to want to pick these Turtles up and put them in an old shoe box as another run of the mill band that breaks strings and sweats on a crowd for a paycheck. Yet these tortoises can stretch their tiny legs far beyond what one expects. It’s songs like the slow spoken harmony of "Bloodshot Eyes" that make you understand that these Yankees aren’t just here for the biscuits and apple butter.
“I wrote some songs, but they were shitty as hell. It only works when I’m broken. Four inches from dying, and at my best." That is poetry my friends. I don’t care if you are from the north, the south, or a place that doesn’t have civil war re-enactments every other weekend in July. Trampled by Turtles is one of those groups for which other musicians root. They are genuine southern music with a slight case of freezer burn from too many winters in Duluth. Look past the blazing strings and the occasional twang, there’s plenty of room on that back of this turtles’ shell, and if Palomino is any indication of the future, I know who’s going to win this race.
Palomino is now available on Thirty Tigers Records.