It’s small wonder that rock critics love Ryan Adams: Dude sure knows how to push their buttons. On his breakthrough solo album, 2001’s ”Gold,” the young, ex-Whiskeytown singer-guitarist came on like 10 different great ’60s/’70s artists, recalling everyone from the Rolling Stones and Neil Young to The Band and Traffic. Playing spot-the-influences was half the fun with this guy (although, truth be told, he did manage to stamp every song with his own distinct persona). On kcoR N lloR, Adams seems to have moved on to cribbing from ’80s and ’90s role models. ”So Alive” channels early U2, while ”Burning Photographs” could be a lost B side from A Flock of Seagulls. Despite its title, ”This Is It” evokes not the Strokes but the Replacements. (Indeed, the shadow of former ‘Mats main man Paul Westerberg hangs heavy over this album — not to mention over Adams’ own booze-stoked, I-toss-off-future-classics-between-boilermakers cartoon image). In keeping with the alt-rock aesthetic, there is a primitive urgency to many of these tracks — in particular, ”Note to Self: Don’t Die,” which sounds like the best Nirvana pastiche Bush never got around to doing — but it doesn’t all add up to a CD that’s as good as ”Gold.” That’s probably because the source material carries considerably less mythos. Will ’60s/’70s always beat ’80s/’90s? You betcha — until someone manages to convince us that Bush were greater than the Stones.
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