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'New Multitudes' Blends the Best Sounds of Modern Alt-Rock Bands,

Published: Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Updated: Wednesday, February 29, 2012 16:02

Jay Farrar, Yim Yames, Will Johnson, Anders Parker.

Courtesy Jay Farrar, Yim Yames, Will Johnson, Anders Parker

Jay Farrar, Yim Yames, Will Johnson, Anders Parker

New Multitudes

(Rounder)

Grade: B

Since Nora Guthrie opened her father's archives to select artists, we've been treated to several collections of newly unearthed Woody Guthrie lyrics set to new tunes, starting with the two volumes of Billy Bragg and Wilco's Mermaid Avenue.

Like that project, New Multitudes is a collaboration, in this case of lead guys associated with alt-country bands. Son Volt's Jay Farrar, My Morning Jacket's Jim James, Centro-Matic's Will Johnson, and Varnaline's Anders Parker alternate lead vocals but share harmonies and guitar leads throughout.

It's no surprise that Guthrie's plainspoken lyrics, many penned during his Los Angeles years in the 1930s, make perfect songs. More surprising is how easily they're turned into what sound like great Son Volt rockers or My Morning Jacket acoustic ballads.

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