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CD Review: Ryan Adams & the Cardinals

III/IV (Pax Am)

It's no secret that Ryan Adams cranks out songs at superhuman speed. He's released a dozen albums since his solo debut a decade ago. III/IV, a two-disc collection of 21 leftovers from 2007's Easy Tiger sessions, doesn't quite hold together as well as Adams' best work, but for a rather lengthy set of outtakes, it's surprisingly high-quality. Unlike the laidback singer-songwriter exercise Easy Tiger, most of III/IV's songs turn up the volume and swerve into post-punk and classic-rock territories. A few songs sound like fragments or variations on each other (apparently, III/IV was conceived as a concept album). But the best tracks wouldn't sound out of place on Adams' most recent albums with his scrappy band the Cardinals. He just got clean when he recorded these songs, and their energy is addictive. — Gallucci

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