Tuesday, October 7, 2008



The thoughtful, nuanced records of country-soul collective Lambchop don't exactly shout that the band hails from Nashville. But from the liner-note urgings to visit the Country Music Hall of Fame to its use of Music Row string players and arrangers, the telltale signs are there. Opening with singer Kurt Wagner crooning "oh-oh-oh" like a creaky answer to Patsy Cline's "boo-boo-boo-ing" Jordanaires, the group's shimmering new CD is no exception.

The album closes with a soft-shoe rendition of Don Williams's countrypolitan ballad "I Believe in You." If you don't listen closely, though, you're not likely to recognize the song, which sounds more like one of Harry Nilsson's moonbeam reveries than a record made in the home of country music.

Lambchop places much the same premium on subtlety, beauty and restraint as signature Nashville producers Chet Atkins and Owen Bradley once did. Over the course of 15 years and 10 studio albums, however, the indie stalwarts have diligently been forging their own version of the Nashville Sound, the more oblique the better.

Redolent of Jimmy Webb at his ruminative best, their new record's autumnal "Close Up and Personal" would have been perfect for Sinatra circa "September of My Years." Elsewhere, backed by rippling piano, Wagner wryly invokes dog dishes, Afro picks and compassion, sounding like nothing so much as the second coming of John Hartford.

-- Bill Friskics-Warren

DOWNLOAD THESE:"OH (Ohio)," "Sharing a Gibson with Martin Luther King Jr.," "I Believe in You"



Oasis has officially entered the "bathroom break" portion of its career. The new album from the Brit-pop icons is passable enough to serve its purpose: It gives the brothers Gallagher -- songwriter/guitarist Noel and singer Liam -- an excuse to stage a massive tour that will let them rake in the dough while they sprinkle some new tracks in between their early-career hits. You know, the songs people actually want to hear. The ones that are much better than anything on the plodding "Dig Out Your Soul," the band's seventh album.

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