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The Jayhawks: Smile (2000)

Of the crop of Americana bands that arose in the late 80s and early 90s, the Jayhawks were on the more country side of things, leaving their twang largely unadorned (in contrast to, say, Uncle Tupelo, who supercharged it with some Replacements-style post-punk).  But with the departure of co-found Mark Olson, Gary Louris took the band in an increasingly poppy direction, and by the time of 2000s Smile, the Jayhawks sounded more like a power-pop band in the vein of Big Star or Matthew Sweet than a roots-rock outfit.  And while this may have upset purists, I find that it's the Jayhawks album I listen to the most often (which isn't to speak ill of earlier classics like Tomorrow the Green Grass).

The title track kicks off the album in grand fashion, a sweeping baroque pop tune with soaring Beach Boys harmonies and a simply gorgeous chorus, one of the band's most winning tracks.  The arguably trite sentiment come across with such passion and shimmering sonics that it's impossi…

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