“Looking Back on Ryan Adams’ Red Headed Stepchild Rock N Roll, and the Most Unfortunate Phenomenon of Sounding ‘too white,’ Even When You’re Making Expressly White Music to Begin with”

Ryan Adams is a slouching, smooth-faced rock god. He has jammed with Jamaican guitarists on reggae odes for MTV’s Music in Low Places, [1] he’s had lengthy in-concert discussions with heartbroken audience members, he’s let little kids interview him for live TV broadcast.
So when you hear his new album Rock N Roll in 2004 and can’t find another damn soul on the planet who likes it as much as you do, there must me something extenuating, something cultural, going on. Granted, 2004 provided no shortage episodes garnering cognitive dissonance, from the war in Iraq to Fat Joe taking over the rap world.. I remember listening to a lot of Strokes, but also zoning out to a lot of Grateful Dead, and just trying to distance my perspective as much as I could, before of course Green Day would take over in the fall of that year.
And the elephant in the room of a reason why nobody liked this Ryan Adams album, the one that was staring me in the face the whole time but that I kept battening down (probably for its sheer similarity to my own predicament, for that matter), is that Adams does indeed, as we said, “sound too white” to be making this music. Rock N Roll was too “rock” for well, basically, GIRLS, un-angry girls, and it was too “white,” or too not square, but maybe parallelogram, for lovers of the bands at the time — the psychedelic Strokes, Shins and Flaming Lips. The one bad review I’ve seen for the new Dandy Warhols album has come from consequenceofsound.net, and their reasoning (which happens to be not only somewhat fallacious but also downright wrong), is that the new album is too similar to the old stuff. ’04, it seems, was when more than ever America was clamoring for bands to constantly stylistically EVOLVE, or to just initially embody something really askance and unorthodox — we would abide no “Long December,” we would cherish no “Better Man.” Grunge had fully lost steam by way of Machina and the Machines of God (which upon recall is actually pretty listenable) and Candy from a Stranger getting Soul Asylum dropped from Columbia. Pearl Jam’s new album Riot Act was uninspiring to say the least. It was absolutely the worst time ever to be a rock and roller, but then again, Adams probably wanted it this way anyway.
[1] In the interview following the performance shooting, Adams commented something along the lines of “It might look to you folks at home like these people don’t have anything, but how many of your American friends can actually say they’re ‘happy’? Most of them probably just get pi**ed off if they have to stand in line for too long.”

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