The Only Children

Keeper of Youth

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Although nominally an alt country act, the Only Children's second album tends to keep their twangier elements in reserve while playing up the pop songcraft of singer/songwriter Josh Berwanger. Oddly, the results sound less like the children of Uncle Tupelo who helped found the alt country scene, and slightly more like an earlier brand of roots rocker, although thankfully devoid of the truly rotten, dated production that hampers their albums for modern listeners. The closest point of comparison for this Lawrence, KS quintet lies in the explosion of Americana or cowpunk bands that appeared in the mid-'80s. Echoes of Rank and File, the Long Ryders and Green on Red course through these ten meat and potatoes pop songs, from the lo-fi, semi-acoustic "Dusty Magazines" to the far more polished, moody sincerity of "Back to You." There are occasional bobbles -- the vocals on the nearly solo, mostly acoustic "Something Like Me" sound like a misguided parody of early Bob Dylan at his most yowling -- but a near-perfect roots-pop tune like the masterful "1969" (the best song Marshall Crenshaw never wrote) more than makes up for them.

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