Picks and Pans Review: Strangers Almanac

updated 08/04/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 08/04/1997 AT 01:00 AM EDT


Hailed as the rough-hewn spawn of neo-punk's Replacements and Merle Haggard, Whiskeytown almost lives up to the hype on their major label debut. Songwriter-guitarist-singer Ryan Adams has an appealingly ragged voice, while Caitlin Cary's fiddle adds a welcome counterpoint to the North Carolina quintet's snarling guitars. Adams seems most at home exploring the barrooms and gutters of despair. "This situation keeps me drinking every goddamn day and night," he wails in the twangy "Excuse Me While I Break My Own Heart Tonight." But by the end of Almanac it seems like Adams spends most of his time drankin' and thankin' and feeling sorry for himself. A guy who plays and sings this well should: a) cheer up and b) find something more interesting to write about. (Outpost)

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