Alt-country charmers: New York's the Damnwells play down-home rock.

The Damnwells

Though they hail from Brooklyn, the Damnwells traffic in a loping, Americana-pop sound that seems endemic to the middle of the country, from the Replacements to Wilco to the Old 97's. Not as ragged as the 'Mats or as adventurous (if precious) as Tweedy, lead singer/guitarist Alex Dezen's reedy tenor recalls the 97's' Rhett Miller. Like the Texas power-pop/alt-country rockers, the Damnwells fashion loose, melodic rock with a little jangle and twang, and the kind of desperate, down-on-the-luck lyrical romanticism Paul Westerberg made fashionable two decades ago. Their debut, Bastards of the Beat, follows two well-received EPs, and while not necessarily improving on their sound, it offers a consolidation of their musical charms. Needless to say, they're covering well-trod territory, but what they lack in originality, they compensate for with irrepressible pop verve and an infectiously energetic live show.


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