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Jason & the Scorchers

Halcyon Times

JCPL

Buy if you like: Son Volt, Ryan Adams

In 1981, Jason Ringenberg and Warner Hodges put together a band in Nashville that kicked the doors down for "alt-country/no depression/Americana." For most of a decade, they tore up clubs and studios by combining country, Stones and punk influences. Joined by a new rhythm section and "fifth Scorcher" Dan Baird (of Georgia Satellites fame), the revived JATS cut Halcyon Times live in the studio, and they haven't missed a beat. Starting with "Moonshine Guy" ("Likes the Stones, hates the Doors / Thinks the Beatles sing for girls"), JATS deliver cut after cut of what they once called "reckless country soul," combining evocative lyrics with smoking, slashing guitar and a rhythm section. That's called rock 'n roll, boys and girls, and nobody's done it better lately. — L. Kent Wolgamott

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Alkaline Trio

This Addiction

Heart & Bones/Epitaph

Buy if you like: Bayside, Hot Water Music

Alkaline Trio is living in its own past. Following several albums with a more straight-ahead rock sound, This Addiction takes a step back to the group's punk roots. More recent converts will likely appreciate the shift hearing songs like "This American Scream," Dine, Dine My Darling" and the title cut, all delivering high-impact hooks to go with amped-up energy. There are still some straightforward rockers ("Draculina," "Dead on the Floor"), but this is the band's most punk-centric release since Good Mourning. In the process, Alkaline Trio manages to move forward by recapturing the past. — Alan Sculley

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Will Kimbrough

Wings

Daphne

Buy if you like: Rodney Crowell, DADDY

Will Kimbrough's solo albums didn't quite fulfill his potential as a songwriter. But with the guitarist/singer/producer's fifth release, Wings, one of Nashville's top players clearly has come into his own as a composer. He's a happy husband and father, and these songs express the joys and challenges of those roles. "Three Angels" is a sweet ode to family life, while "Love to Spare" could have been a John Lennon song. Kimbrough co-wrote the peppy "Wings" with Jimmy Buffett, and Todd Snider co-authored the slinky, simmering "It Ain't Cool." A few of these tunes, including the lovely benediction "A Couple Hundred Miracles," sound as if they could have been written by Kimbrough's sometime-boss, Rodney Crowell. But Crowell's last album wasn't as consistently strong as this one; maybe he ought to try writing a few with Kimbrough. — Lynne Margolis

  • Jason & the Scorchers, Alkaline Trio, Will Kimbrough

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