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Top 5 Alt-Country Shows

Grunge may be long gone, but alt country -- the DIY genre influenced by Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons, with a dash of Patsy Cline -- is flourishing.

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Grunge may be long gone, but alt country—the DIY genre influenced by Bob Dylan and Gram Parsons, with a dash of Patsy Cline—is flourishing. This week, a surprising number of acts park their vans up North.

1. Jesse Malin

Fresh from a U.K. tour with Ryan Adams, this scruffy New Yorker comes home to show off his new Adams-produced album. Don’t expect the punked-up glam rock of his old band, D Generation—Malin’s gone reflective and rootsy. (Mercury Lounge, January 28.)

2. Rhett Miller

Judging from his album cover, Miller’s being sold as a pretty face, à la Natalie Imbruglia. But his lyrical inspirations—Sylvia Plath, Kafka’s love letters, Don DeLillo—make it clear that this earnest crooner wants us to take his twangy rock (very) seriously. (Town Hall, January 29 and 30.)

3. Bonnie “Prince” Billy

Will Oldham’s latest work as Bonnie “Prince” Billy is sparse and wintry, punctuated by thoughts of God and, of course, his famous quavering. He’ll bring his beard and his brother Ned to Irving Plaza this week; no word yet on his Mariah Carey cover. (January 29.)

4. The Jayhawks

Their album Blue Earth got these wistful rockers signed in 1991, and in 1995 they had a hit single called “Blue.” Now they’ve got a song in a Ralph Lauren Polo Blue cologne commercial, proving that sadness, in the music world, can pay. (Warsaw, January 30.)

5. The Waco Brothers

When Jon Langford, front man for the British punk band the Mekons, could no longer stifle his inner cowboy, he formed the Waco Brothers, a spastic but likable blend of politics and honky-tonk. (Mercury Lounge, January 31.)


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