Former D Generation singer Jesse Malin's made no bones about his love for Paul Westerberg, following Ryan Adams down that now well-worn country-rock path on his last album, The Fine Art of Self-Destruction, which Adams produced. Like most of Adams' solo work, the album had more trappings than content, and lacked anything particularly memorable lyrically or musically. Malin's latest, The Heat, dispenses with Adams' deadwood ass, as Malin takes the production chair himself, fashioning a good album with more sonic depth and better melodies, though the material loses steam the deeper in you go. Malin's stronger pop-rock sensibilities make him a fine fit for The Damnwells, whose album debut, Bastards of the Beat, is twice the record The Heat is. There's a bit of Replacements twang here ("Kiss Catastrophe"), but they're just as facile with crunchy roots-rock melodies ("What You Get") recalling Soul Asylum, or rich, hypnotic pop ("Sleepsinging"). Keep an eye on these kids.
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