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While TwangTrust producer Ray Kennedy has controlled the volume knob on Wicked Twisted Road, he has still managed to infuse the album with a huge shot of rock energy while shrewdly tiptoeing across a checkerboard of genres to cast a wide marketing net that should appeal to flannel-clad hipsters, Arrow-dress-shirt frat scenesters and even a few of the edgier folkies. Call it alt-country if you want, but most of it is way too muscular and loud to fit neatly in that niche. -- William Michael Smith

Buck 65
This Right Here Is Buck 65
V2

If Outkast's Andre 3000 made it safe for hardened hip-hop heads to embrace their inner (and sexually ambiguous) Prince, will Canadian import Buck 65 open the floodgates for cowboy hats and Hank Williams cassettes? Hip-hop may run through his veins and into his rhythm section, but Buck's clanky acoustics and gruff, shit-kicker flow point toward dust-bowl balladry and white-boy talkin' blues. Fortunately, Buck's quirky yet richly detailed vignettes help This Right Here Is Buck 65 transcend the novelty of its social and sonic juxtapositions. Songs like "Wicked and Weird" and "Roses and Blue Jays" convey a deep and abiding ambivalence about life's trivialities, a been-there-done-that world-weariness that inevitably draws comparisons to Tom Waits. And while This Right Hereonly culls (and remixes) Buck's early indie material, it's a great introduction to one of the genre's most challenging and ultimately satisfying artists. -- Sam Chennault

Buck 65's This Right Here Is challenges and 
ultimately satisfies.
Buck 65's This Right Here Is challenges and ultimately satisfies.

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