Veteran Minnesota String Band Trampled by Turtles Is Still Getting Better on ‘Alpenglow’
Photo: Zoe Prinds
To launch Alpenglow, the tenth Trampled by Turtles album, songwriter-guitarist Dave Simonett brought a set of solo demos to Jeff Tweedy’s studio in Chicago, where the band started playing them for the first time. “We didn’t do any rehearsing before we got into the studio, which I’m sure Jeff was worried about,” says Simonett. “We’re loose like that.” How loose? Well, loose enough to finish the sessions days ahead of schedule and still take time in the middle to listen to Tweedy’s suggestions, pull the songs apart, and patiently put them back together.
Trampled by Turtles
The result is the strongest album Trampled by Turtles has ever made, and thanks to Tweedy and his guitar collection—including a 1930s Gibson-made Kel Kroydon KK-1, a 1940s Martin 0-17, a 1950s Gibson J-185, and a recent Waterloo WL-K—it’s also their best-sounding album, filled with a sonic richness that keeps these songs driving forward, no matter how many times Simonett wants to sing about blurred vision, blinding lights, and broken hearts.
In any other world, a lines as weighty as this—“It’s so hard, it’s so hard to hold on,” sung four times in a row as a singalong chorus—would sound weary. Here, through the alchemy of banjo (Dave Carroll), bass (Tim Saxhaug), cello (Eamonn McLain), fiddle (Ryan Young), and mandolin (Erik Berry), the song sounds positively anthemic, and there’s a beer-swigging, fist-pumping video to go along with it, too. That’s how good these guys sound, flying by the seat of their pants and somehow emerging with the perfect balance of hard truths, hard partying, and the joyful noise of a Minnesota night.
This article originally appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of Acoustic Guitar magazine.