The Consumer: Late Winter Picks

By Spencer Davis. Longtime readers of S&N might notice a surprising name missing from this edition of The Consumer: Ryan Adams. His latest, Prisoner, dropped last month, but I’m sad to say I can’t recommend it. Continuing in the vein of 80s power rock that he explored on his 2014 self-titled album, Adams can still pen a great song almost effortlessly—and having heard a few of Prisoner‘s tracks during his live acoustic tour last year, I can confirm that there are some great songs hiding here. But they’re buried under lackluster production and a muddled mix, resulting in an album that feels like a cheap imitation—not only of its more obvious 80s influences (like Springsteen or Petty), but of Ryan Adams himself. So what have I been listening to instead? Aside from some killer EPs by Middle Kids and Maggie Rogers, lots of contemplative songcraft from the likes of Spoon (pictured above), Laura Marling, Leif Vollebekk, and Rose Elinor Dougall. Continue reading

The Stagediver: Ryan Adams Acoustic Show @ The Lincoln Theater, Washington, DC

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By Spencer. I wanted to write a review of Ryan Adams’s sold-out acoustic show at DC’s Lincoln Theater. It was probably a fantastic show, and you’d think I’d be more sure of that considering I was there and all. But instead of writing about Ryan Adams, I really have no other option but to write about “that guy.” You know the one I’m talking about, because you’ve probably seen him at many a concert yourself. He’s the guy who decides he’s going to dance wildly with his arms flailing around for the entire show, bumping and jostling anyone in a ten-foot radius. He’s the guy who wandered in from the year 1994 to start a mosh pit, when everyone else just wants to listen. He’s the guy who can’t stop checking his cell phone in a darkened room, or the guy who goes for ten beer runs, or the guy who thinks everyone came to hear his voice instead of, you know, the person whose name is on the ticket. And if you were sitting anywhere near Row S, Seat 17, in the upper left balcony last night, you know exactly which guy I’m talking about. Continue reading

The Consumer: September Picks

By Spencer. September was full of so many big releases, I’m still working my way through them all. So while we very well may have more to say about The Dead Weather, Gary Clark, Jr., Foals, Beach House, Joan Shelley, CHVRCHES, Patty Griffin, Silversun Pickups, and plenty of others, today’s edition of The Consumer is a progress report of sorts on several artists who have been longtime favorites of the site. We start with Glen Hansard. Continue reading

The Professor: Ryan Adams 101

RyanAdams_MoroccanRoleBy Spencer. If previous writings (such as this, this, this, this, this, or this) haven’t made it clear, Ryan Adams is a longtime favorite on this site. But with a catalog spanning fifteen official solo albums, three Whiskeytown albums, numerous EPs, and probably a dozen more unreleased albums worth of material that you can find in various disreputable corners of the internet, well, he can be an intimidating artist for novices. With so much material to choose from, and so many different sounds to his name, where do you start? That’s where I’m here to help. Continue reading

The Stagediver: The Ryan Adams Album Release Party @ The 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

photo(3)By Spencer. The tickets sold out in ten seconds. I’ll say that again. Ten fucking seconds. Those kind of expectations are damn near impossible to meet. And Ryan Adams didn’t bother trying. For the official release party and the kickoff to his fall tour, he came to the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC—long considered one of the nation’s top venues—and acted like he was playing a frat party in his best friend’s driveway. The music was loose and the banter with the crowd was even looser, spanning topics from The Amityville Horror 2 to mushrooms to an imaginary cover band called the Dingo Infestation. (Trust me, some of this actually made sense in context). Continue reading

The Critic: Ryan Adams & The Meaning Of Ryan Adams

ryan-adams-new-albumBy Spencer. Ryan Adams has always been two artists: the hard-mouthed alt-country troubadour and the 80s rock nostalgia junkie. So what should we make of the fact that his latest album is simply named Ryan Adams? Is it a rejection of the duality I just described? Does he think this batch of songs represents the real Ryan Adams? Or after thirteen albums as a solo artist, has he just stopped giving a shit about naming these things? Whatever the answer, Ryan Adams the songwriter has clearly touched on something, because Ryan Adams the album is the first truly great rock record he’s put together. Continue reading