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Bobby Bare Jr.

• Bobby Bare Jr.

Like his dad, a true Nashville iconoclast. The thunderous, circuitous career of Bobby Bare Jr. more credibly embodies the marriage of punk, rock and roll, and pure country than anyone in memory. Perhaps because the last was DNA absorbed; consider the unique distinction of a Grammy nomination at age five for a duet with his father Bobby Bare for "Daddy What If." (Losing, bizarrely, to The Pointer Sisters makes it abundantly clear that Country didn't simply lose its mind lately. It's always been a little weird.)

Bare's previous records have been critically well-received, to say the least, but none has yet catapulted the artist to the heights where he belongs. (He did two with the band Bare Jr., an odds and ends collection called Ok I'm Sorry, and this is his third solo release.) This latest CD, The Longest Meow, is a brilliant coupling of composition and combustion. The arranging acumen of the artist and playing producer Brad Jones stretches the canvas until it wraps around the head of the listener and pulls you into the melee that involved 11 songs, 11 people, and only 11 hours. The last part you will find hard to believe, because entirely too much great music happened. Regular musicians need more dates and more people to hit this many grooves this hard. It's lethally slamming one minute, psychedelic country the next, and the coffee house version of the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind" is one of the finest moments of all.

Longtime compadre and bandmate  Mike Grimes plays bass (along with Brad Jones), mayhem becomes the man. There are crucial cameos by friends from My Morning Jacket, Lambchop, Clem Snide and ...And You Will Know Us By The Trail Of Dead. The only overdub was the inspired addition of Neal Rosengarden on trumpet on "Sticky Chemical." The fabulous pedal steel on "Demon Valley" is, unfortunately, uncredited. (It is, however, Carl Broemel, of My Morning Jacket. Thanks to Brad Jones for that.)

This disc is an excellent example of why I refuse to take any flack about Nashville. This town is crawling with geniuses, and this cat's one of them. • Frank Goodman

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