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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    You just gotta know: Ryan Adams

    You just gotta know: Ryan Adams

    Don’t you ever confuse Ryan Adams with the ‘80s pop icon of a similar name; unlike his oft-mistaken counterpart, David Ryan Adams has consistently produced some of the most well-composed modern classic albums of the indie underworld over the past 11 years.

    From his alt-country roots in 2000’s Heartbreaker to the jangly pop of Love Is Hell up through the stripped acoustic pieces that dot Easy Tiger, Adams is the quintessential songwriter of our generation, much in the vein of Jim Croce, Tom Petty, or David Gilmour, with just a bit more prolific flair.

    Acquaint yourself.

    “New York, New York,” from 2001’s Gold

    Much more than a tribute to Adams’ love for the iconic city, this cornerstone to his second solo venture is better known for the video that accompanies it: shot just four days before the 2001 attack on the twin towers, the video shows Adams playing the song on an acoustic guitar across the water from the towers. It’s on this track that Adams seems to start to develop his incredibly immersive imagery, spinning his songwriting into art.

    “Shakedown on 9th Street,” from 2000’s Heartbreaker

    Fans of Adams know this album for its grassroots hit “To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High,)” but “Shakedown” is a gem often overlooked. Adams’ deftly covers many facets with his songwriting, and this cut alone shows he can take a listener back to what feels like the ’50s with dry, reverb-laden guitar, heavily rhythmic drumming, and lyrics replete with a socs-and-greasers theme. If you don’t want to move your hips to this, you’re probably dead.

    “Wonderwall,” from 2004’s Love Is Hell

    It’s a true challenge trying to highlight a singular track from this split album. It’s one of those masterpieces that can be listened to in its entirety without even hinting at needing a fast forward. Adams’ cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall” is a real highlight, however, transforming the ever-familiar original into a haunting, gorgeous track of which Noel Gallagher (of Oasis) has been noted as being a fan of more than his own original.

    “Anybody Wanna Take Me Home,” from 2003’s Rock N Roll

    Adams goes electric; the theme of Rock N Roll is driving, distorted guitars, layered heavily, and frenetically strummed. “Anybody” is the departure halfway through the album, slowing tempo, cleaning up the production, and finds Adams crooning over delayed arpeggios about being the odd man alone at the end of a long night. If you can spring for the longer, Japan-only version, do it; you’re not going to want the instrumentation to end.

    “Oh My God, Whatever, Etc.,” from 2007’s Easy Tiger

    A simple acoustic piece, Adams’ lyrical prowess shines bright on this track about a simpler man’s life and his want to disappear. Despite the seemingly odd character choice in the song, listeners can’t help but to relate, and this fact alone is what makes Adams a master at his craft; the most insolent critic can find solace in the commiseration that is painted in these beautifully concise tunes.

    Be on the lookout for Adams’ newest release, Ashes and Fire, on Oct. 11 nationwide.

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