Roosevelt Dime – Full Head of Steam (2014)

You’d think all of this knee-slapping banjo jazz, rip-snorting jug music and grease-popping soul would be emanating from somewhere in the kudzu-covered reaches of the Deep South — not Brooklyn. But that’s precisely where the four-piece Americana roots-rocking Roosevelt Dime came up with these 12 genre-busting tracks — or, it seems more precisely, somewhere in transit.

The opening “Oh To Be,” a plucky paean to love, was sparked on the Staten Island Ferry. “Calvary,” a loping historical piece that would have fit on the Band’s first couple of albums, grew out of trips past the Calvary Cemetery on the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway. “I Want Mo,” this boisterous street-parade of a tune, was written on the Q Train — and honed through busking at Union Square Station.

And maybe that sense of effervescent motion, of constant but thrilling change, is the larger theme of Full Head of Stream — right down to its title. The album, due for digital release on January 14, 2014, has fizzy, restless energy. Roosevelt Dime never settles into any one genre, or any one groove for long.

“Natchl Culmination” plays like a wailing New Orleans lament, while “Now There’s You” rumbles like a shivering rockabilly blues. “Deep Elem Blues” plays like a hootenany folk song, but with these bright asides on trumpet, while the eponymous closing track takes us to the bottom of a brown bottle of economic despair — before ramping up into a tongue-wagging lindy hop. It’s that kind of record.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has explored music for USA Today, All About Jazz and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the nation by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso