Over Ryan Adams
Ryan Adams cut his teenage teeth in punk band the Patty Duke Syndrome long before hitting pay dirt with alt-country latecomers Whiskeytown. Disbanding that twangy troupe after three albums (with a fourth full-length entitled Pneumonia released following the band's split), Adams made like many a front man and transmogrified into an earnest singer-songwriter. In his solo career, Adams has reworked his raucous Americana sound by either stripping it down to a gritty, bare-bones sparseness or pumping it up with steam-powered rhythms, distorted guitars and some of the most polished production in all of Los Angeles. He's developed a driving, melodious pop style with catchier hooks than many of his contemporaries -- in fact, of all the insurgent country hopefuls who've attempted to break into the more lucrative Adult Alternative radio charts (Kim Richey, the Jayhawks, Victoria Williams, Rhett Miller, Kelly Willis, Son Volt, etc), Adams is the closest to achieving a crossover success of John Mellencamp-esque proportions.