Showing posts with label Run the Jewels. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Run the Jewels. Show all posts

Dec 18, 2020

Farce the Music's Top 20 Albums of 2020

 Voted on by: Megan Bledsoe, Robert Dean, Jeremy Harris, Trailer, Kevin Broughton, Matthew Martin, Travis Erwin, Scott Colvin, and (tiebreakers) Chad Barnette.

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20. Kathleen Edwards - Total Freedom

Welcome back! This first collection of songs from Edwards in 8 years is warm and lush, her music still fitting like a soft leather glove. That’s not to say the songs are all comfy, there’s ample amounts of hard-lived emotion and sharp lines. She hasn’t lost a step! ~ Trailer


Despite everything 2020 was good if only for returning Kathleen Edwards to us. Eight years removed from her last album (Voyageur), Edwards is back with her familiar brand of songs that comfort, caress, and importantly make us smile when it was needed most. ~ Scott Colvin


19. Elizabeth Cook - Aftermath

Cook’s most varied album of her career sees her pulling together threads of country, glam rock, and other genres to create a still-cohesive piece of art that’ll get your feet moving, heart pumping, and mind considering. One of her best. ~ Trailer


18. Margo Price - That’s How Rumors Get Started

I read a lot of reviews for That’s How Rumors Get Started when it came out, and the gist was “she’s not making country records anymore.” To which I say, “so what?” That’s How Rumors Get Started is a great album. Period. Whether it’s country, California country, or Stevie Nicks-esque soft rock is inconsequential. Just put it on and enjoy the ride. ~ Scott Colvin


17. Jesse Daniel - Rollin’ On

America needs many things in 2020. At or near the top of that list is The Bakersfield Sound, and Jesse Daniel delivers both a faithful send-up and a high standard for others to meet going forward. Rollin’ On exudes hope, as you’d expect from an artist who’s emerged on the redemptive side of addiction. The best pure country album of the year.

His was the last real show I saw B.C. (Before Corona), and I remember how excited I was about Daniel’s future. At the turn of a bad year, I’ll emulate his optimism: 2021 is gonna be a great year for this troubadour. ~ Kevin Broughton


16. Ashley McBride - Never Will

When people say the state of mainstream country is beyond repair, introduce them to Ashley McBryde. When they say that women only sing about happy endings and heartbreak, introduce them to Ashley McBryde. When they say that you can only make it big in Nashville if you sell out, introduce them to Ashley McBryde. And don’t give McBryde or this record any qualifiers; she is not the best mainstream country artist in 2020, and this is not the best mainstream country album; rather, she is one of the best artists and this is one of the best albums in all of country music this year. ~ Megan Bledsoe


15. Jaime Wyatt - Neon Cross

For my money, there is not a better straight up honky tonk country album released in 2020 than Jaime Wyatt's Neon Cross. Shooter Jennings produced this album beautifully as well. Jaime's vocals are incredible and the incredibly personal lyrics are deceptively strong and deep. I think this was my most listened to album of the year and I don't think it will be out of rotation any time soon. The title track and "Rattlesnake Girl" are indicative of Wyatt's songwriting and vocal ability. The self-assurance Wyatt sings with draw you in from the beginning and there is no let-up throughout the album.  ~ Matthew Martin


14. Arlo McKinley - Die Midwestern

Everyday on my way to work I pass a small town, crap bar with a sign full of misspelled words and local bands that played the other bars in town last week. Then one day just before this album was released, there it was, spelled correctly and everything. ARLO MCKINLEY with a date he’d be performing. That date, the weekend after Ohio closed all the bars due to rising Covid rates. Thankfully this album was around to play the lonesome sound 2020 demanded, just not live like I wished. ~ Jeremy Harris


Seventeen years is a long time to wait for a follow up album, and beyond that, Payne has a lot to live up given his royal lineage and ties to Outlaw hierarchy. This album lived up to all of it and perhaps even exceeded expectations. ~ Travis Erwin


When Texas Jonny Tyler told me, “That new Waylon Payne album is pretty good,” I thought, “’Waylon Payne?’ That sounds like a great pro wrestling name.” On reflection, (1) this album is damn fine, with sharp lyrics and a honky-tonk sensibility; and (2) the name of the album sounds like a stable of wrestling villains. ~ Kevin


12. Run the Jewels - RTJ4

2020 may not have been an ideal year for most but if there was a soundtrack it’d be RTJ4. A guided tour of struggle and protest, on point lyrics, and some awesome beats. The perfect album for an imperfect year. ~ Jeremy


11. Sturgill Simpson - Cuttin’ Grass, Vol. I

As someone who has never really been a Sturgill apologist, this album made me a believer. It is something special to be able to reimagine an entire album’s worth of one’s work at all, let alone with such fresh, engaging results. It takes something even more special to deliver a bluegrass album with nuance and restraint, and Simpson does just that, proving that bluegrass is not always about instrumental prowess, but sometimes about simplicity and emotion. ~ Megan


10. Tami Neilson - Chickaboom!

I am such a sucker for female fronted garage rock. I got into Tami Neilson a few years back with Don’t Be Afraid and enthusiastically devoured Chickaboom! when it was released. I don’t have this on vinyl...but I will…and hopefully soon. ~ Scott


9. Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit - Reunions

There's a real late-80s/early-90s undercurrent to most of Isbell's latest release from the production with high-hitting snares, slight reverb-laden vocals, and high-flying guitar solos. But, this works well for Isbell who creates brand-new sounds within the old sound. Isbell's voice is about as good as it's ever been. It's remarkable to hear him sing a murder ballad so beautifully - I had to listen to the song "River" a couple of times to clear the dissonance between the beauty of the song and the darkness of the lyrics. But, that is what Isbell is so adept at doing. He shows no sign of slowing down any time soon. ~Matthew


8. Futurebirds - Teamwork

Futurebirds have always been road dogs. Their show has always been one that seems just about ready to go off the rails in the best possible way. Their albums have always been really good, but with Teamwork, Futurebirds put in what feels like their most personal set of songs which includes the Futurebirds' best songs: "Broken Arm," "Rodeo," and the absolutely incredibly raw emotional gut-punch "Waiting On A Call." ~ Matthew


7. Ruthie Collins - Cold Comfort

The album’s opening track might be my favorite cut of the year. “Joshua Tree” was inspired by the relationship of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris. Other favorites of mine were “Dang Dallas,” “Wish You Were Here,” and “You Can’t Remember.”  ~ Travis


I remember the first time I listened to Cold Comfort. I put it on as background music and then “Joshua Tree” started playing. The background music was brought to the forefront and the world became the background. Starting at that moment my least productive physical moments were hidden behind the sweetness of Ruthie Collins. Wasted time is a thing to relish. ~ Jeremy


6. Ward Davis - Black Cats & Crows

The title track was the first track I heard here and was strong enough to have me digging in for more. “Sounds of Chains” keeps the murder ballad alive and in gritty capable hands. The fourteen tracks here take you for an emotional ride and the collection feels traditional, without ever coming across as cliché. even on the Alabama cover, “Lady Down on Love.” ~ Travis


5. Chris Stapleton - Starting Over

I look on Stapleton as the Miles Davis of country music. Seems like he can show up in a studio and just churn out high grade stuff. (Sturgill is a lot like that. But Sturgill didn’t release any new material this year.) This record dropped in December and re-ordered my top 10. Stapleton’s a beast.  ~ Kevin


4. Zephaniah OHora - Listening to the Music

It was a high bar to cross, but Ohora’s sophomore effort exceeds 2017’s lofty This Highway. On Listening to The Music, Zeph channels Merle Haggard, both vocally and spiritually. I’m not sure what was more 2020 about the song “All American Singer: (a) that it’s genuinely courageous in woke America to say “not everything has to be about politics;” or (b) that some p***y at No Depression put Zeph on blast for NOT being political enough, smearing Merle Haggard in the process. ~ Kevin


3. Tennessee Jet - The Country

A cinematic masterpiece from a Renaissance man, Tennessee Jet draws on the likes of Sergio Leone and William Faulkner to craft his characters. This is literary songwriting combined with punchy production and execution. The crown jewel on an album of gems? A grungy, scary, 3 ½-minute movie soundtrack about the creepy death of Johnny Horton. And of all the covers of “Pancho and Lefty,” -- I’ll plant a flag right now – none equals the four-headed monster version here by TJ, Jinks, Elizabeth Cook and Paul Cauthen. ~ Kevin


2. The Wilder Blue - Hill Country

A mashup of The Damn Quails, Flatland Cavalry, and The Bellamy Brothers - but with their own blood pumping through this vital music, this probable side-project may have garnered enough attention to become a front-street project soon; at least I hope so. This is a fantastic album full of great lyrics, killer harmonies, and memorable melodies. ~ Trailer


A late add to my list, but wow. There’s a lot of purity here in these harmonies and spot-on acoustic guitar licks. A half-dozen of these songs should be on mainstream radio right now, but what can you do?  ~ Kevin


1. American Aquarium - Lamentations

No one speaks their mind like B.J. Barham and that is why his music tends to be so provocative.  ~ Travis


With American Aquarium's latest album, BJ Barham has turned in his most poignant and pointed set of songs of his career. With the incredible production by Shooter Jennings and the tighter than ever musicianship, American Aquarium have released their hands-down most mature and best album to date. This is officially the highwater mark for American Aquarium. The opening, title track sets the tone for the album and it takes off from there. ~ Matthew


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(Top Others Receiving Votes: Brandy Clark - Your Life is a Record; Marcus King - El Dorado; Katie Pruitt - Expectations; Steve Earle - Ghosts of West Virginia; Nicole Atkins - Italian Ice; Kesha - High Road; Great Peacock - Forever Worse Better; Gabe Lee - Honkytonk Hell; Brent Cobb - Keep ‘em on They Toes; Tessy Lou Williams - s/t)


Sep 3, 2020

Trailer's 23 Favorite Albums of the Decade

23 Favorite Albums of the Decade (2010-2019)
I meant to post this at the end of last year with blurbs and whatnot, but it did not happen. 

1. Jason Isbell - Southeastern

2. Lori McKenna - The Bird and the Rifle

3. Tyler Childers - Purgatory

4. The Damn Quails - Down the Hatch

5. Father John Misty - I Love You Honeybear

6. John Moreland - In the Throes

7. The National - Trouble Will Find Me


8. Turnpike Troubadours - Diamonds & Gasoline

9. Jamey Johnson - The Guitar Song

10. Brandy Clark - 12 Stories

11. Run the Jewels - RTJ

12. James McMurtry - Complicated Game

13. The War on Drugs - Lost in the Dream

14. Kendrick Lamar - good Kid, M.A.A.D. City

15. Turnpike Troubadours - Goodbye Normal Street

16. Sturgill Simpson - Metamodern Sounds in Country Music

17. Jamie Lin Wilson - Jumping Over Rocks

18. Run the Jewels - RTJ2

19. Lydia Loveless - Somewhere Else

20. Chris Stapleton - Traveler

21. Cody Jinks - Adobe Sessions

22. Ashley McBryde - Girl Going Nowhere


23. Pallbearer - Foundations of Burden
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Honorable Mentions: Sturgill Simpson - High Top Mountain, Kacey Musgraves - Same Trailer Different Park, Cody Jinks - I’m Not the Devil, Turnpike Troubadours - A Long Way From Your Heart, Kellie Pickler - 100 Proof, Mike & The Moonpies - Cheap Silver, Turnpike Troubadours -s/t, Miranda Lambert - The Weight of These Wings, Ruston Kelly - Dying Star, Brandi Carlile - By the Way I Forgive You, Sturgill Simpson - A Sailor’s Guide, Lee Bains III & The Glory Fires - There is a Bomb in Gilead, Charlie Robison - Beautiful Day, Lucero - Among the Ghosts, Car Seat Headrest - Teens of Denial, Gojira - Magma, Colter Wall -s/t. 

Dec 15, 2016

Farce the Music's Top 10 Songs of 2016



Spotify playlist created by Jon Sorrell below the selections.

1. Lori McKenna - Old Men Young Women
We had a casual poll about 2016 music a month or so back. Lori McKenna led the way on the 
"Best Songwriter of 2016" voting, and it's no surprise. With observant, incisive songs like 
"OMYM" and the others on her brilliant The Bird and the Rifle, McKenna stays at the forefront 
of American songwriting. She has the ability to put the listener into a situation they may have 
never even dealt with and make them think "Yes, this is exactly how that feels!" Here she takes 
on a lover who's moved on to a newer model and skewers the whole cliché (see title) with pointed lines like "you want the lights off, he wants the lights on, so you can pretend" and "She's the past in a 
summer dress, he's a ride in a new Corvette"…damn, just damn. The Bird and the Rifle is a master-class and for me, "Old Men Young Women" is its centerpiece.


2. Justin Wells - The Dogs
Passion. That's what drives this tune and it's the feeling that comes to mind in describing it. "The Dogs" is an unapologetic portrait of life on the edges, embracing the underdog life of a touring musician trying to drink away a broken heart. He's doing his best, but the hurt bleeds through even on stage: "It ain't easy acting like it ain't personal, and the band asked me not to curse no more." Wells can belt and he does a bit in the chorus, but he knows how to sing with fire even when using restraint. That give and take of emotion, but more so, the palpable tension when it's held in check, is what makes this song one of the best of 2016.


3. Car Seat Headrest - Drunk Drivers/Killer Whales
I don't pretend to know what the hell this song is about; I just know I love it. The lyrics are smart and snarky and anxious and abstract. The music is jangly indie-rock (with a slice of power pop) that's constantly shifting tempos. The hooks though. This freaking song has like 4 hooks. It's crazy, but somehow it works. When that crunching and cathartic "it doesn't have to be like this" refrain finally kicks in, it's nearly as bracing as any face-slapping Nirvana chorus. I've tried to review the album this song is from about ten times this year, but I just don't know what to say about it that would make any sense or sound like I vaguely know what I'm talking about. Just know that it and this song are badass.

4. DJ Shadow & Run the Jewels - Nobody Speak
I already loved this song before its absurdly entertaining video took my affections to a new level. Run the Jewels has a new album coming out early next year, but it was nice to have this reminder of their magnetism in 2016. Underground legend Shadow provides an aggressive, pounding arrangement with just as many memorable turns as the lyricists spit. If I'd done much working out this year, 
this would have been on repeat.


5. Brandy Clark - Love Can Go to Hell
It sounds so sweet but it packs a sting. This time around, Brandy isn't casting barbs at exes and jerks, but at love itself. She doesn't linger on goodbye or blame her former lover; it's the unseen forces of the heart she's wishing ill upon. The instrumentation is light and intoxicating, the melody is gently rolling. "Love Can Go to Hell" ought to be a hit, but maybe it's too good for that.


6. Turnpike Troubadours - Come as You Are
These guys are so damn talented, they didn't even release an album this year and still had one of the best songs. This single from Bruce Robison's The Next Waltz series sounds like something that might've been left off last year's self-titled masterpiece, only because it didn't really fit the feel of that set, not due to any questioning of its merit. This tale of a come-and-go relationship surely set off some smoldering slow dances across Texas dancehalls this year. TPT can do no wrong.


7. Cody Jinks - I'm Not the Devil
There's really not a best song on Jinks' 2016 album. It's an incredibly consistent and 
moving collection without a single droop in quality, much less a weak moment. This tune 
just kinda gets the de facto nod for being probably the most memorable of the bunch. 
Jinks is blessed with a wonderful voice and possibly even better songwriting talents. 
He'll be a star in this realm of music for years to come.


8. Paul Cauthen - I'll Be the One
A voice that recalls Elvis and Waylon Jennings all at once probably could sing the proverbial phone book and make me happy. The fact that this powerful vocalist can also write songs this good should make a lot of other artists jealous. "I'll Be the One" sounds both timeless and modern, sticking in your head with multiple vocal hooks, and moving your feet with a shuffling rhythm. I can't wait to see and hear where this guy goes. There's no ceiling.


9. Austin Lucas w/Lydia Loveless - Wrong Side of the Dream
"I look around at 35 and all I've got are songs." Whew. When this line hits shortly into the song, you know it's not gonna be all sunshine and roses. Lucas has one of the more distinct voices in Americana and adding Loveless turns that chill up your spine into full-fledged goosebumps. 
This is a lonely and longing look at how life on the road affects a relationship. 
Spoiler alert: it ain't good - but it makes for a great song.


10. Rodney Parker and 50 Peso Reward -
The Road Between None and Some
This is probably the coolest song of 2016. It's just "different," I don't know how to describe it best. It starts with a slinky bass line and minimal drums before building only slightly into a mid-tempo groove that never lets up. It's an earworm of the highest caliber - one you don't mind getting trapped in your head for days. Simplicity serves RPFPR well here. This feels like sipping a good beer in a New Orleans dive bar in spring with the door open and a nice breeze blowing in.


Nov 16, 2016

An Open Letter to Zach De La Rocha



Sup dude. The track you did with Run the Jewels was excellent. Super stoked on it. The stuff you did with the dude from Mars Volta, also badass.

But, dude. We need to talk.

There’s the elephant in the room. You know what it is. I don’t have to spell it out. We’re gonna need you to pick up the phone and give your dudes a call. This Prophets of Rage thing ain’t working. Believe me, we all love Public Enemy and Cypress Hill, but we love Rage Against The Machine more. We need you back on the microphone.

The situation is dire, and there isn’t a better voice in all of music that spits pure acidic bile like yours. For over twenty years, we’ve had Rage Against The Machine as an arbiter, a reality check of what the cultural pulse is, what we’re blind to, and whose hands have blood on them. Have you watched the news lately? We have a situation that requires a swift pen and mighty vengeance illuminating the issues at hand.

When you wrote verses during the Bush and Clinton eras they were siren songs to the masses that couldn’t grasp the world around them. You fell silent, and now, we need that fire back, and we need that vitriol. I know you didn’t write “The Ghost of Tom Joad,” but if those words aren’t poignant as ever, then what is?

Sure, many bands have a lot to say, but few have your megaphone, your stage. We need the world to feel that anger again as the streets are full of protests – who will be the soundtrack? We need Rage Against The Machine.

So, just hit me up or something….

Your pal,
Robert Dean





Aug 24, 2016

New Video: DJ Shadow / Run the Jewels - Nobody Speak

Here's the new video for "Nobody Speak," one of my favorite songs of the year. From DJ Shadow's album The Mountain Will Fall.

*language warning*


Dec 30, 2014

Farce the Music's Top 20 Albums of 2014


You were expecting something else, maybe? Metamodern Sounds in Country Music is epic. Despite there only being 9 songs on the official release (plus a bonus track), this is a big big record. Simpson takes the hard country brilliance we all loved on High Top Mountain and expands on the textures and topics. He gets weird in a few places, trippy and edgy even, but it never feels like a put on. This is where Sturgill wanted to go and he hopes we'll come along, but whatever. I'm in.

Mark Kozelek may not agree, but Lost in the Dream is an immersing record, long in listen and longer in ear-pleasing sounds. Though popular in indie rock circles, there's little about Lost in the Dream that fits that usually intentionally prickly sub-genre. It's an easy-to-listen-to, hard to quickly digest collection of atmospheric classic rock, steeped in the sounds of Dylan, Springsteen, Dire Straits and the like. Mark Koz (Sun Kil Moon) said it's "beer commercial guitar rock," but he doesn't like anything not frocked with stream of consciousness lyrics and picked on a nylon string guitar. Other detractors have called it boring, and I would have agreed after a couple of listens. Once it clicked though, Lost in the Dream burrowed its way in and stuck with me throughout the year. It's a beautiful album whose strength lies in its commitment to to a cohesive sound and an unapologetic earnestness.

 
A deep and beautiful record, as easy to enjoy on first listen as it is difficult to fully grasp on the 30th. Faucett's voice would be the clear calling card if the writing weren't so damn good as well. It's an album that sticks with you long after the final notes have faded. It sounds like nothing else released in 2014.


I lack the proper words to tell you why I love this album or why you should too. It's damn good or it wouldn't be at #4. Check the context. That's enough of a review. RIYL: Deer Tick, Bob Dylan, The Band, Jimbo Mathus.


The band goes back to their roots with fantastic results on this raucous and hedonistic trip of an album. It's billed as a look back at their career, but Most Messed Up feels far more lived-in than a simple recollection. The attitude is cocky and contagious, the partying over-the-top, the drinks frequent, and the music is rocking. They've been doing this "longer than you've been alive" and it sounds like they're still way better at it than anybody else. There's a little regret and some soul-searching but all-in-all, this is no nostalgia project - it's a reclaiming of what makes Old 97s a vital and legendary alternative country act.


Lydia blends pop sensibilities into her rockabilly side on Somewhere Else and crafts a versatile and fulfilling piece of roots-rock-pop-abilly or whatever you wanna call it. It's a well-written, liberated and enchanting performance with memorable songs that sound like hits from a world with better taste.

Darker and more focused than last year's debut from the duo, Run the Jewels 2 kicks out windshields and smacks around f**kboys, all the while sounding infinitely more intelligent and purpose-driven than most of their contemporaries. This is anarchy with reason, chaos with a plan, savagery with a heart. The interplay of El-P's off-kilter lyricism and Killer Mike's straightforward bomb-dropping makes their message hit all the harder.


Kelsey Waldon sounds more vulnerable and confessional than say, Loretta Lynn, on these 11 tracks but she's every bit as sure of herself. Hers is a sweet voice that belies a depth of realism and a spirit that forgives but never forgets. It's a world-weary but optimistic outlook that keeps The Goldmine from ever sinking into despair. It's a moving and memorable album that should easily satisfy fans of classic country and modern Americana, and make Waldon an artist to watch for years to come.


The heavier realms of metal call out to me a few times a year, and while not qualified to write about such music adequately, I inevitably end up loving some of what I come across. Pallbearer is a doom metal band, but apparently Foundations of Burden isn't true doom metal or something something blah blah I read in reviews by true metal aficionados. All I know is that I do like doom and stoner metal, and that Foundations of Burden fits right in for me. It's dark, slow, anthemic, epic and driving. Some of it sounds a little prog-rock with its endless journeying, but there's always a destination here, it's not riffing on just for the hell of it. Maybe what sets Pallbearer apart the most for me is that lead singer Brett Campbell actually has a good voice. He can't wail with the classic metal gods like Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford, but he's certainly from that school of vocalizing.  The hypnotic 10 minute 17 second "Ghost I Used to Be" is even more epic in sound than length; it's one of my favorite songs of the year - and likely my favorite song ever from the doom metal genre. Non-metal fans probably shouldn't bother with this detour from FTM's usual fare. For the rest: throw some Iron Maiden, Rainbow, Black Sabbath and Queensryche into a blender on low-speed for reference. Amazing album - deserving of far better words written about it.


Womack sounds as assured and authentic as ever on this collection of memorable and well-chosen songs. She's a treasure and it's good to have her back, especially with such a worthy return.


Dereconstructed loudly takes on the "duality of the Southern thing" that Drive-by Truckers explored years ago on Southern Rock Opera. LBIII does it their own way: angry, political at times, and amped-up at nearly all times. The lyrics, which you may or may not be able to make out without reading the album booklet, are smart, poetic and often biting.


This is a downer of a Red Dirt country album that will leave you feeling surprisingly hopeful. LaRue tries out a variety of styles including folksy introspection, country rock, and even a little 70's-style Mellotron swoon - finding them all fitting in this deeply personal but highly relatable gem.


RIYL: Patsy Cline, Lydia Loveless.



Fire Mountain's All Dies Down harkens back to the 90s glory days of alt-country, bringing to mind the guitar pop of The Gin Blossoms, the addictive low-key melodies of Whiskeytown, and the edgy jangle of R.E.M.'s more country-leaning tunes. All Dies Down isn't stuck in that era by any means, but it certainly draws deeply from the well.




Don Williams sounds as good now as he did in his '80s heyday, maybe better. The excellent "I'll Be Here in the Morning" reassures a lover that "I'll be here for a while." God, I hope so.


Matt Woods has released his strongest album to date with With Love from Brushy Mountain. He's shaken off some of the "spot the influence" unsureness I heard in his earlier works and found his own voice and sound. This is country music filtered through rock, folk, punk, red-dirt and bar room soul and it doesn't sound like anybody else.

 
The early '90s might have been Stuart's commercial peak, but he's on the long swell of an artistic wave like none other right now. SN/SM shows off every facet of he and his expert band's absurd skill set of virtuoustic talents across an expansive collection of songs that never overstays its welcome.


Dark Night of the Soul presents all aspects of Jimbo Mathus: soul-singer, folksy storyteller, strutting rocker, country songwriter - there's little he can't do and sound masterful doing it. The most gripping thing about this record is just how little Mathus holds back. He's found his groove and is barreling headlong and breathlessly forward.

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