On his eighth album, singer-songwriter Richard Buckner largely leaves his trademark melancholic alt-country stylings behind in favor of primal, surprisingly upbeat garage pop. Buckner's rough, whiskey-soaked voice sounds positively exhilarated to find itself in such fresh surroundings, especially on the buoyant opening track, "Town," which sounds like a college radio staple in waiting. Buckner is backed up by an impressive band of veteran indie rockers. Former Guided By Voices second-banana (and unheralded genius songwriter in his own right) Doug Gillard once again proves himself an exemplary sideman, jangling up a Rickenbacker storm, perfectly ready to bring his "maximum riffage" to bear should a searing guitar solo be required. There's also great support from Mekons/Rumour drummer extraordinaire Stephen Goulding, himself a master at alternating subtlety and sheer force. But the real show here, of course, is the songwriting and singing of Buckner himself, and nobody who's been following his dogged career will be disappointed by the fresh but familiar slices of life he serves up this time out. Meadow might be the most accessible chance yet for a whole new audience to find its way to this sometimes difficult but always rewarding artist.
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