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Michael Rank & Stag's In the Weeds

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The harrowing break-up album typically precedes the record of bloodshot Sunday-morning blues, but leave it to Michael Rank to fuck up a formula. If you've followed the career of the former Snatches of Pink frontman, you know two things: There will be Stonesy flavor in his music, and something will be in disrepair—a relationship, his logic, the whole world.

Naturally, Rank's second album with the new, country-rock incarnation STAG follows Kin's sober acceptance by hitting emotional bottom. Like a slow descent into hell, the despair of In the Weeds is relentless. Amid the pedal steel heartbreak of "Rifle Days," Rank admonishes, "You say you got wishes? Well I got wishes, too." During the desperation of "Confederates," a career highlight but emotional lowlight for Rank, he admits to the woman walking out the door that she's the only one he'll ever want. Its sad-eyed beauty is underscored by the complementary vocals of Mandolin Orange's Emily Frantz, the moaning steel guitar of Nathan Golub and the mandolin sweep of John Teer. Despite the despair, In the Weeds documents Rank's woes with meticulous craft, right down to "The River Cross," a dark rocker keyed by this final declaration: "Keep the money because you sure done killed that man."

If growing up is this painful, I'll take the dull miasma of youth.

Label: Louds Hymn

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