Alt-country is typically traced to Uncle Tupelo, but the early '90s Jayhawks made better records. Where Uncle Tupelo found scrappy affinities between traditional Americana and punk, the Jayhawks brought '70s country-rock to the alt-rock '90s.
This new band's sound has roots in the indie-folk scene, with its moody treatments of simple chord progressions and Americana rhythms. But the larger thread here is classic pop, and The Head and the Heart offers the complete feel-good package.
Dave Bazan, Curse Your Branches. Bazan’s confessional songwriting is dark and intense, but his impeccable craft makes it a pleasure. Bazan has put out album after album (many as Pedro the Lion) of precisely described internal turmoil set to spare rock and roll—with delectable pop hooks, here more confident and lilting than ever.