The Wood Brothers – Ways Not to Lose (2006)
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The Wood Brothers - Ways Not to Lose

It’s like I was saying to my esteemed colleague Jason this morning: For a “jazz” label, Blue Note sure does a great job with its pop releases. And by “pop,” of course, I mean “popular music,” which is how I describe pretty much everything I listen to that doesn’t certifiably belong to any particular genre, not “pop” as in “whatever was on TRL today.” The fact that this innocent word, with its glorious history, has been so ignonimously and intractably associated with Barnum-inspired doody is one of the grave injustices of American English.

Anyway, this is a great album. I’m not saying it’s necessarily the kind of great that’ll make you want to rush out and tell all your friends — though it might — but great enough to restore a little of your faith in music. Maybe even great enough to quicken the beat of your jaded, miserable heart for a minute or two. These are not particularly happy songs, or particularly polished performances, and these are good things. Ways Not to Lose is the kind of record that drinks too much on Friday and maybe even gets into a fight on Saturday, but it feels bad enough on Sunday to sometimes go to church, and anyway, The Wood Brothers are sorry, baby. They didn’t mean it. Why you got to be like that?

Soundwise, you probably get the picture already: A little bit country, a little bit rock & roll, with some blues thrown in for good measure, and all given a cursory sniff before being tugged onto a gangly, unwashed frame. There’s a lot to love here, but try “Chocolate on My Tongue” (download) and “Atlas” (download) for starters.