New York Times:
Ryan Adams: The 'It' Kid of Alt.Country
Um... is the Times on top of a music story while it
is happening for once? If you missed the article, check
it out here.
But what does the New York Times know anyway? I recently read one of their
articlesit was actually more pretentious rhetoric than an articleabout
Stephen Malkmus. Where were they when Pavement was blowing away college
campuses all over the Northeast? I don't remember Pavement getting too
much print then. Unfortunately, their music coverage generally
seems to be on time delay.
Regardless, their article on Mr. Adams was very well done and informative
for a change, so hats off to them.
And before I go on, I should state that the subject of this article is
Ryan Adams, not the Brian Adams of an altogether different
phenomenon. If this kid really wants to become a superstar, he should
have listened to the advice his agent surely gave him and create an alias
Adams has slowly been building a fan base over the last couple of years
following the release of his first solo album Heartbreaker and
more recently with the wonderful Pneumonia by Whiskeytown for whom
he was the frontman.
First things firstWhiskeytown has been around since 1996 with rotating
members and less than consistent work. Pneumonia was supposed to
be released in 1999, but sat on the shelves until last month due to label
problems. But boy was it worth the wait. Having had a busy month, I left
the CD in my player on repeat, more out of distraction than anything else.
After a couple days, I realized how infectious this record truly was.
Most releases would have driven me nuts by the 2nd or 3rd spin. And what
is strange is the fact that upon first listen, Pneumonia sounded
a tad earnest and pop for my sensibilities with some songs heading into
the direction of Melloncamp and Billy Joel (not a good thing in my mind).
But in the end that is what is so enjoyable about Adams as a songwriterhis
knack for simplicity and his sincerity.
And that's not to say that Mr. Adam's isn't afraid to experiment stylistically
here and there. Take for instance the tape looping of "What The Devil
Wanted," for instance, or the tropical flavor of "Paper Moon."
When's the last time you heard tape-loops on a Steve Earle CD, or Uncle
Tupelo for that matter. Oddly enough, it works wonderfully.
Disk highlights are the aforementioned diddies, the
Dylan-flavored "The Ballad of Carol Lynn," and actually nearly
every damn track on the disk.
is another nice surprise, but Bloodshot Records should have named the
CD, Do Not Listen to this Record with the Fan On. Adams shows the
world with this outing that he never needed the now defunct Whiskeytown
anyway, but unfortunately the music tracks are often so much more subdued
than the vocals, I had to put my head to the speakers to hear what was
going on. Regardless, the songwriting is solid on this nearly all acoustic
disk. Emmylou Harris pays a visit on the beautiful "Oh My Sweet Carolina"
and the opener "(Argument with David Rawlings Concerning Morrissey)"
with its twangy guitar licks sounds like it could an outtake from Dylan's
Blonde on Blonde.
Adams again breaks with convention on songs such as "Sweet Lil Gal"
by adding a touch of dub-influenced guitar. Overall a really nice record
that is considerably more country and less pop than anything he has done
Just don't listen to it during these summer months with your fan onI
swear you will not be able to hear the badly produced music at allonly
So is he the it kid? I think that remains to be seen, but he certainly
has an apt title for his upcoming record ambitiously named Gold.
It is due out in September and will feature 16 new tracks and is supposedly
his best work to date. Ten tracks that were cut will be released soon
after as an EP. Reportedly, the amount of unreleased work Adams possesses
could fill volumes and he even has a side-project with another band named
Pink Hearts scheduled for November. In other words, he is prolific.
And talented enough for me to be excited about his future.
Free Williamsburg© | 93 Berry
Street | Brooklyn, NY 11211
| July 2001 | Issue 16
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