Whiskeytown â€“ Strangers Almanac Deluxe Edition / 2008 Universal / 39 Tracks / http://www.universalchronicles.com /
I must admit, I was too young to really get into Whiskeytown when they were first out. If I recall correctly, I was listening to Marilyn Manson, Deicide and Corrosion of Conformity. This would not have jived well with what Whiskeytown sounded like during this album, calling forth individuals like Uncle Tupelo, The Replacements, and Gram Parsons. However, Universalâ€™s re-release of this album (bundled with an additional disc of outtakes and hard to find tracks) gives me a better shot at beginning to understand why exactly Whiskeytown was such a great act and why many individuals felt that Ryan Adams going solo was an incredibly bad thing.
The tension and turmoils that hit the band during the sessions for this album (such as losing their guitars, Adams pondering a solo deal, and new members galore) can be heard in the tortured arrangements and tracks that make up this album. This X factor â€“ the bandâ€™s spontaneity â€“ was brought into line considerably by producer Jim Scott, but Scottâ€™s tendrils are not as strong (if present at all) during the draft recordings (what fans of the band call the â€œBarnâ€™s On Fireâ€ sessions). For individuals that felt that the original mastering was a little on the weak side, the best and brightest over at Universal have given the album a new sheen and have remastered the recording. The one thing that I hope is done in the next few years would be to re-release â€œPneumoniaâ€, the bandâ€™s final effort, in much the same way that â€œStrangers Almanacâ€ was done.
By providing individuals with all of this extra material, whether it be songs themselves or a lush set of liner notes, a band that may be detached from the current time by a decade is made into something that current individuals can identify with. Tracks like â€œAvenuesâ€ and â€œI Still Miss Someoneâ€ could easily make it back on indie or alternative rock rotation, if the album was released for the first time this year. This is due to two factors: the timelessness of the compositions here and the aforementioned remastering of the album. If you like alt-country or indie rock at all, pick up this Deluxe Edition. Universal, keep releasing these Deluxe Editions: fans of any band would love to hear things that would normally be kept in the vault for all time.
Top Tracks: Dancing With The Women At The Bar, My Heart Is Broken