Though they hail from Brooklyn, the Damnwells traffic in a loping Americana-pop sound that seems endemic to mid-America, from the Replacements to Wilco to the Old 97's. Not as ragged as the 'Mats or as adventurous (if precious) as Tweedy, lead singer-guitarist Alex Dezen has a reedy tenor that recalls the 97's' Rhett Miller. Like the Texas power-pop/alt-country rockers, the Damnwells fashion loose, melodic rock with a little jangle and twang, and the kind of desperate, down-on-their-luck romanticism Paul Westerberg made fashionable two decades ago. Their debut, Bastards of the Beat
, follows two well-received EPs, and while not necessarily improving on their sound, it offers a consolidation of their musical charms. Needless to say, they're covering well-trod territory, but what they lack in originality, they compensate for with pop verve and an energetic live show.
Headliner Sam Roberts rolls out big, swooning classic-rock psychedelica, harmony-rich folk-rock, and power-chord bombast. An arena-rock star in his native Canada, he's the kind of guy who loves playing enough never to realize he's slumming.