Friday, December 09, 2005

MP3: Whiskeytown - Strangers Almanac

Before Ryan Adams turned into an overproducing indie/country rock superstar, he was the vocalist for perhap the best alt. country band you've never heard, Whiskeytown. It's surprising really that more Ryan Adams fans haven't gone back to check out his earlier stuff, especially considering how much some of them complain about how he's not done anything as good as 'Heartbreaker' since well, 'Heartbreaker'. The Whiskeytown records are as good if not better than that supposed critical peak.

The band formed in Raleigh, North Carolina in 1994 and were made up of Adams (vocals/guitar), Caitlin Cary (vocals/fiddle), Phil Wandscher (guitar), Steve Grothman (bass), Eric Gilmore (drums) and Mike Daly (everything else). Their debut, Faithless Street, came out in 1996 on Mood Food records. It's a pretty good start, but not the bands best. It was re-released on Outpost in 1998 with a bunch of bonus tracks. Against the bands wishes Mood Food released a set of unreleased tracks called Rural Free Delivery in 1997, and although i've not heard it it's apparently not worth searching out, especially when the only copy on Amazon is £70 used.

Second album proper, and in my opinion their best record, was 1997's 'Strangers Almanac'. This is the album i've taken two songs from for tonight's mp3s. Both of them represent exactly why Whiskeytown and indeed alt. country at its best are so damn good. Country without the cheese, with gallons of depression. Great stuff. Following internal band problems (drugs/alcohol/the usual) Ryan decided to start preparing some solo material, and the first of his many solo albums was 2000's 'Heartbreaker', which is just an obvious classic and doesn't need explaining, fool. It was probably the huge critical success of that record that led to Whiskeytown's eventual demise.

In 2001, four long years after Almanac, the bands third and final album 'Pneumonia' was finally released. It features some of the best songs of Adams career, lovely contributions from the Pumpkins' James Iha and The Replacements' Tommy Stinson, and it's, as the kids say, 'the bomb'. During their far too short career Whiskeytown also released some great EPs, including 1995's 'Angels' and 1997's 'In Your Wildest Dreams', both of which are worth searching out.

For more info on Whiskeytown you can either check out Lost Highway's very out of date Official site, the very nice unofficial site named Losering, or the utterly essential Whiskeys & Ryan site at Hope you enjoy the songs, and if so you should really buy some of the albums below and make me some money. I'm really poor.

Download: Houses On The Hill - MP3 1.9mb (rapidshare)
Download: Turn Around - MP3 3.7mb (rapidshare)

Discography: (including Ryan Adams solo material)

Faithless Street (1995)

Rural Free Delivery (1997)

Strangers Almanac (1997)

Heartbreaker (2000)

Pneumonia (2001)

Gold (2001)

Demolition (2002)

Rock 'N' Roll (2003)

Love Is Hell (2004)

Cold Roses (2005)

Jacksonville City Nights (2005)

29 (2005)