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Sound Check

9/30/2015

Ryan AdamsRyan Adams
“1989”
Atlantic

Ryan Adams has done something seemingly impossible. He has opened up Taylor Swift’s music to an audience of people who would never have listened to the pop princess herself and has managed to validate and elevate both himself and T-Swift in the process. Adams’ “1989” is a song-for-song cover of Swift’s album of the same name. Stripped of all their pop sensibility, songs like “Blank Space” and “Shake it Off” become a kind of survey course in Smiths-era indie alt-rock and illustrate Adams’ brilliance as a musician and songsmith. But, at the same time, these beautiful, stripped-down versions of the songs also lay bare just how well crafted and good the source material is in the first place. Swift has matured and grown as a songwriter, and Adams’ take on “1989” offers a naked, vulnerable look at her best work. It is a glorious undertaking that highlights the best that two very different artists have to offer and leaves them both looking better for it. CV

Silversun PickupsSilversun Pickups
“Better Nature”
New Machine

Silversun Pickups has remained true to a sound that has carried them through good times and bad. Starting in relative obscurity 15 years ago, the band sprang to commercial prominence in 2006 with “Carnavas.” Since then, nothing has hit the same highs, but the band’s sound has remained true to its roots. While it can’t be said that “Better Nature” strays from that path, what the album does deliver is a more mature version of the band that you already know. It is a perfectly fine album that makes no disastrous missteps, but it often sacrifices any genuine excitement in the name of safety. The band has not taken any genuine chances with its sound in nearly nine years and “Better Nature,” while a little fuller and warmer in spots than its previous material, offers up nothing to get all that excited about. CV

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