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Rocky Votolato: The Brag & Cuss

On Rocky Votolato's 2006 album Makers, the ex-punk entered the ranks of earnestly rootsy troubadours, delivering winning story-songs over minimal instrumentation. On his new record, The Brag & Cuss, Votolato expands his sound, attempting a laid-back country-rock style that has a lot in common with Stephen Stills' warm, catchy early-'70s albums. There are no shortage of likeable country-rock acts on the indie scene—indeed, a significant portion of The Brag & Cuss comes off as generic—but Votolato's raspy voice and full arrangements bring depth to lopers like "Lilly White" and "Before You Were Born," making this record charmingly earthbound.

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