Son Volt

Okemah and the Melody of Riot
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Being branded a co-founder of the alt-country movement (alongside former Uncle Tupelo partner Jeff Tweedy, now of Wilco) forces you to sidle out to left field now and then to keep the typecasting at bay. Singer, guitarist, and songwriter Jay Farrar did just that through the course of experimental solo outings such as Terroir Blues and Sebastopol. But Okemah and the Melody of Riot, the first new Son Volt studio album in seven years, sees the icon return to more hummable territory, with tunes intact and sizzling guitar hooks aplenty. Other than Farrar himself and occasional sideman Eric Heywood on pedal steel, Son Volt circa 2005 features an entirely new band—with Brad Rice on lead guitar, Andrew Duplantis on bass, and Dave Bryson on drums—but the vibe remains the same. Tracking live in the studio, Rice and Farrar engage in the kind of compelling lead/rhythm interplay and juicy Bigsby-fied riffage on “Bandages & Scars,” “Afterglow 61,” and “6 String Belief” that will be like manna to groove-starved Son Volt fans. And, as a bonus, the DVD side of this double-sided disc includes studio footage, live performances, and an enhanced stereo version of the entire album. Transmit Sound/ Legacy. —Dave Hunter