Reigning Sound= Bob Dylan + The New Pornographers – Neko Case
Greg Cartwright formed Reigning Sound in 2001, at the dawn of a new millennium, before anyone could foresee what a difficult generation it’s been. His version of garage rock is tinted with a kind of enthusiasm and optimism, even in its mournful moments, that is rare in a time of insipid escapist pop and nihilist metal/dance. Even though he’d been honing his songwriting over several decades before that, Shattered might be the apex of his work. “North Cackalacky Girl” could be the song of the summer (as I write this, the season has a few more weeks before it fades into fall) as it’s being over-played on NPR, but there was never a more tuneful farewell than “Never Coming Home,” with its low-key strings. Everything about this album shows Cartwright to be a master of subtlety and story-telling, and that amply rewards repeated listenings.