The Wood Brothers

It may have dropped back on April Fool’s Day, but Loaded, the second studio album from The Wood Brothers is no joke. Building mightily on the promise of their debut collaboration (2006’s excellent Ways Not To Lose), Chris and Oliver Wood have enriched that lazy elegance with beefier musical arrangements without sacrificing a brand of easygoing authenticity that Jack Johnson would murder kittens to have. Listening to Loaded, Oliver’s adopted home state of Georgia really shines through; it sounds like this record was born on a wooden front porch jam session over a Styrofoam cooler of cheap beer on the hottest day in July. Oliver’s warm guitar and vocals and Chris’ signature upright bass remain the focus of these songs (sonically miles away from Chris’ bread and butter band Medeski Martin & Wood), and the extra instrumentation, while welcome, merely accents its core beauty. The disc features two strong covers: the traditional “Make Me Down A Pallet On Your Floor” and Jimi Hendrix’s classic “Angel”, but the despite these savvy workouts, the strongest songs are the originals, particularly the lead-off “Lovin Arms” and my personal favorite “Buckets of Rain.” In 2006, their debut disc was awarded one of the “Overlooked 11” on NPR. If there is any justice in the world, Loaded will avoid the ‘overlooked’ designation and take its rightful place high up in the Best of 2008 lists. Simply put, no album yet this year has been more deserving of your attention.

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