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Rob Smith Tag

If you were looking for me the last few months and couldn’t find me, it’s very possible that I was off somewhere, curled up inside “Pick Me Up,” the title track of the new Truth & Salvage Co. album (Megaforce Records). Behind its “Like a Rolling Stone” organ figure, expertly placed melody modulation, and positivity-exuding lyric, “Pick Me Up” is a breath of fresh country air at a time when so much seems stale and stagnant. In a day and age in which hearing “You are not alone” usually provokes a bit of trepidation and a nervous backward look or two, Truth & Salvage wrap the listener in a much-needed cover of Southern sunshine.

I drank the Kool Aid for this band three years ago (it tasted like sweet tea and kicked like a triple Cuervo), after seeing them live and digging the fine songs on their debut (my album of the year in 2010, for those keeping track). I thought then and think now that what Truth & Salvage Co. is, is a classic American country-rock band, one we should celebrate and support, lest they fade away for lack of care and feeding. Pick Me Up has plenty to recommend it, from the turbo-fueled opening of “Silver Lining” to the soul balladry of “Back in Your Love,” to the country strum of first single “Appalachian Hilltop.” There are four songwriters in the band (guitarists Tim Jones and Scott Kinnebrew, keyboardist Walker Young, and drummer Bill “Smitty” Smith), each of whom bring to the proceedings something unique, and uniquely good. If you dig ye olde No Depression-style Americana—with plenty of harmony singing, expert picking, and a perfectly placed organ flourish or three— you will find plenty to enjoy here.

R.E.M. were my Beatles. I mean, the Beatles were my Beatles, too, but if I have to name one band active in my generation that had a similar effect on me to the one the Beatles had on their fans in the Sixties—the initial impact, followed by years of songs and albums that challenged me and made me tap my foot and occasionally do little Thom Yorke dances around whatever room I was in—I’m naming R.E.M. U2 came close—they were another band that wrote great songs and filled big places with righteous noise, but I didn’t get into them until pretty much everybody had gotten into them (around the time of Live Aid and “Pride [in the Name of Love]”) and their early stuff I still find spotty. Other similar bands of the era—like Depeche Mode, the Smiths, and the Cure—I grew to love over time, but I did not click with them the way I clicked with R.E.M.

A couple years back, I was charging my iPod at work, and had iTunes open on my PC desktop. A colleague wandered into my corner of the cubicle ghetto and, out of curiosity (I suppose), took my mouse and clicked the iTunes “Plays” column to sort my music library by the most-played songs. At the top of the sorted list was Miley Cyrus’ “The Climb.” It was Number One by a long, long way—several dozen plays, maybe a dozen dozen. He looked at me with raised eyebrow, as if to say, “Explain yourself.”

So I did.