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Ryan Adams & The Cardinals

Mixing the heartfelt angst of a singer/songwriter with the cocky brashness of a garage rocker, Ryan Adams is at once one of the few artists to emerge from the alt-country scene to achieve mainstream commercial success and the one who most strongly refused to be defined by the genre, leaping from one spot to another stylistically while following his increasingly prolific muse. Adams was born in Jacksonville, North Carolina in 1974. While country music was a major part of his family's musical diet when he was young (he's cited Loretta Lynn, George Jones, Merle Haggard, and Johnny Cash as particular favorites), in his early teens Adams developed a taste for punk rock and began playing electric guitar.

At 15, Adams started writing songs, and a year later he formed a band called the Patty Duke Syndrome; Adams once described PDS as "an arty noise punk band," with Hüsker Dü frequently cited as a key influence and reference point. The Patty Duke Syndrome developed a following in Jacksonville, and when Adams was 19 the band relocated to the larger town of Raleigh, North Carolina in hopes of expanding its following. However, Adams became eager to do something more melodic that would give him a platform for his country and pop influences. In 1994, Adams left the Patty Duke Syndrome and formed Whiskeytown with guitarist Phil Wandscher and violinist Caitlin Cary. With bassist Steve Grothman and drummer Eric "Skillet" Gilmore completing the lineup, Whiskeytown (the name came from regional slang for getting drunk) released their first album, Faithless Street, on the local Mood Food label.

The album won reams of critical praise in the music press, and more than one writer suggested that Whiskeytown could do for the alt-country or No Depression scene what Nirvana had done for grunge. But by the time Whiskeytown had signed to a major label -- the Geffen-distributed imprint Outpost Records -- the band had undergone the first in a series of major personal shakeups, and in the summer of 1997, when Whiskeytown's Outpost debut, Stranger's Almanac, was ready for release, Adams and Wandscher were the only official members of the group left. Cary soon returned, but Wandscher left shortly afterward, and Whiskeytown had a revolving-door lineup for much of the next two years, with the band's live shows become increasingly erratic, as solid performances were often followed by noisy, audience-baiting disasters. Consequently, as strong as Stranger's Almanac was, Whiskeytown never fulfilled the commercial expectations created for them by others. In 1999, the band -- which was down to Adams, Cary, and a handful of session musicians -- recorded its third and final album, Pneumonia, but when Geffen was absorbed in a merger between PolyGram and Universal, Outpost was phased out, and the album was shelved; shortly afterward, Whiskeytown quietly called it quits.

Following Whiskeytown's collapse, Adams wasted no time launching a career apart from the band, and after a few solo acoustic tours, Adams went into a Nashville studio with songwriters Gillian Welch and David Rawlings and cut his first album under his own name, Heartbreaker, which was released by pioneering "insurgent country" label Bloodshot Records in 2000. The album received critical raves, respectable sales, and a high-profile endorsement from Elton John, and Adams was signed by Universal's new Americana imprint, Lost Highway Records. Lost Highway gave Whiskeytown's Pneumonia a belated release in early 2001, and later that same year the label released his second solo set, Gold, which displayed less of a country influence in favor of classic pop and rock styles of the 1970s. In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, the album's opening track, "New York, New York," was embraced by radio as an anthem of resilience (though it actually concerned a busted romance), and Adams once again found himself touted as "the next big thing."

Always a prolific songwriter, in a bit more than a year following Gold's release Adams had written and recorded enough material for four albums. He opted to whittle the 60 tunes down to a 13-song collection called Demolition, which was released in 2002 as he went into the studio to record his official follow-up to Gold. A year later, Adams' concept album Rock n Roll was released alongside the double-EP collection Love Is Hell. Tours around the globe kept Adams busy into the next year as he maintained momentum writing songs and keeping his ever-changing presence in the music press. In May 2005, Adams released his first of three albums for Lost Highway, the melancholic double-disc Cold Roses. Jacksonville City Nights, a more classic-sounding honky tonk effort, followed in September, and 29 appeared in late December. Always prolific, in the interim period before his next album was released Adams posted a large selection of tracks -- including several hip-hop tunes -- on his website, but fans were greeted with more straightforward material on 2007's Easy Tiger and 2008's Cardinology with the Cardinals.

Adams decided to disband the Cardinals in 2009, precipitating an unusual period of quiet from the prolific singer/songwriter. He slowly returned to active duty in 2010, releasing the heavy metal Orion on vinyl only in the summer and then issuing III/IV -- a double album recorded with the Cardinals during the Easy Tiger sessions -- in November. For his 13th solo album, 2011's Ashes and Fire, the singer/songwriter recruited Norah Jones and Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers' keyboard player Benmont Tench, as well as legendary producer Glyn Johns, who had helmed the Who classic Who's Next.

Following Ashes and Fire, Adams' musical career was temporarily put on hold while he suffered with an inner-ear disorder, which resulted in a collection of canceled shows. However, after hypnotherapy treatment, Adams began writing music again, and he holed himself up in his L.A. Pax-Am studios with bassist Tal Wilkenfeld, drummer Jeremy Stacey, and guitarist/producer Mike Viola to work on new material. The resulting self-titled album was due for release in 2014. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Happy Birthday (Radio Single)

Comments

Definately a Ryan Adams fan!
Ryan Adams makes great music. GREAT SONG
I don't think Ryan gets the credit he deserves! He's incredible, and the last comment was 7 MONTHS AGO!!!! Jeez, I'm 11, and I grew up with his music! My mom loves him, and I do too. He should have so many more fans, like, siriusly.
danzigirwin
I agree with ALL the comments below. Ryan Adams is a very complicated man. Most times, he's worth the trouble.
Thumbs up!
jsitz
Cold Roses is my fav RA CD. 27 years of nothing but failures/and promises I couldn't keep--DAMN!! ! I've never understood the critics' obsession with Heartbreaker - - t h i s is a better CD in my mind.
webersf
Should of mentioned Chuck Prophet,too. Check him out , yeah
webersf
The Shins and Mazzy Star and Slobberbone , too
webersf
Ryan Adams,Greg Brown,John Hiatt,Ray LaMontagne,S t e v e Earle,Drive By Truckers,Wil c o , S o n Volt,Gillian Welch,Taj Mahal,and the good ole Grateful Dead and many others-what more do I want-wow !
caitlinnellj o h n s o n
He is my favorite and always will be. Amazing artist. Extremely talented, intelligent and entertaining . Hope he makes music for the next 50 years.
Ryan Adams is one of my favorite songwriters of all time, of all genres. I think what I love about him the most is that he honestly doesn't give a rats a$$ what people think of him. Very Johnny Cash in that way. He makes music because he loves it. Not for his fans or some record company. He clearly does it for himself and that's part of why those of you out here like him.
He is really really really really really good. At everything, from the songwriting to the music. This guy is a genius.
I met him in Eugene after a show last Oct. He was nice as one could hope. Brilliant show as well.
webersf
At his best nobody can top him
This guy may be a total dickhead offstage and on, but he is an incredibly talented dickhead. Everything he touches musically is gold. Here's to hoping that he grows up someday...
saw his last show, with cards, he married a damn sucubus
Didn't know he had disbanded the Cardinals. Neal Casal was superb for those songs. The new 'solo' collection due out in a few weeks, I think it's Ashes and Fire, sounds like a winner.
judyjharrige r
Damn, I actually thought he would stick with the Cardinals. I'm still crossing my fingers for a Whiskeytown. . o r Adams/Cary reunion. Nothing could beat their harmonies and her fiddle/violi n , whatever...
Me too gwleaon6. My fave is Summer of 69 too! He's got that great scratchy voice and Cuts like a Knife is genious!!!!! ! ! ! ! !
mark2062
Ryan Adams! Not Bryan...LOL!
gwleon6
Here are my favorites: Cuts like a knife, Summer of '69, Everything I do (I do it for you), One night love affair, and Please forgive me. ;)
The latest release III and IV have lived in my car cd player since December! "Lovely and Blue" and "PS" are absolutely brilliant break up songs! Stunning emotion from RA!
I like this 'kid'. Great songs and very playful attitude. Looking forward to what he comes up with next.
The man is a genius without a doubt. Gold is the best '70s album of the last 40 years!
I couldn't agree more, CardSales. What a talent!
DEREK LENTZ - YOU ARE AN IDIOT
I am very excited that Ryan is releasing a new set of albums in December! It's been too long! I love this man's music- it's perfect.
He is the most talented artist of the last 10-15 years. The Cardinals are awesome too. I just wish he would keep it going. I can't believe he can take a break this long! Come on Ryan, show us some love. How about doing Bonnaroo one year??
Ryan saved my soul....I don't care if he is considered an A Hole......I' m not hanging out with him or spending my holidays with him and Mandy. I listen to his music because it's real, true and heartfelt. Thank god this dude works so hard for his talent.
Is this guy the lead singer for Green Day?
No..tellme.. . n o t married to..mandymoo r e ? ? ? . . . . o k . . a l o h a tomt.
Your right James. All that and a genius! Supposedly since he married Mandy Moore he has been sober and mellowed out. You says he is done with music, hopefully this isn't the truth. Some of my favorite songs are from whiskeytown and solo stuff. He gets a little out there with the Cardinals, but that is his music genius out of control.
jamespillow
A**hole. dick. stuck up. awesome. cool. genius.
Please include more of his albums. He's so incredibly prolific!
GENIUS.
What's up with the Selected Discography? Let's give the guy some props.
He looks like the lead singer from Green Day.
This guy is an American poet in the ilk of Paul Simon. Absoulutely wonderful. If you don't agree, you're an idiot.
Going to see them tomorrow.. joy of joys. It's like a little present for my ears.
What was it that Emmy Lou said? The prolific one!
If you don't understand, no reason to try. It has a lot to do with taste. It isn't your style. But dressed up pop? I don't follow. Now if you said depressing shoot me in the head music...I agree.
really don't understand the big deal with this guy. just pop dressed up as alt. country. wal-mart's dream.
please put more of their albums on here
Sweet Illusions is my favorite song off of Cold Roses, but the whole album is so good.
You can tell that Ryan would be hard to understand, especially in a band. But saying that, most great artists have been misunderstoo d . The more I listen to his stuff, the better it gets. I like singers and bands that don't fit the mold. Lyle Lovett, Chatham County Line (check this one out), Steve Earle, Jupiter Coyote and the list goes on.
Kind of has that jerry Garcia guitar thing going on magnolia mountain. Cool sound.
Ryan is one of the few great american song writers today. The music scene is overloaded with crap. Ryan takes songwriting where other greats like bob dylan,roy orbison, tom petty, and yes paul westerberg have left off. Thank you Ryan. Turn off the hip hop you young ones and listen to real music.
Definitly my favorite band.
japhyrider54
he is a perfect example of what great songwriters do, and become. when emmylou harris calls you "the prolific one" you have arrived. i only wish he would drop the " i hate that people like me" vibe. i remember him from chapel hill ten years ago, and not even his bandmates liked him. but noone can deny your talent Ryan. he is blessed with the gift of music.
One of my absolute favs, no matter what configuratio n he's using, love the Grateful Dead influence
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