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3. Whiskeytown Led by the petulant Ryan Adams, Whiskeytown led a fitful existence from 1994 until 2001. In that time, the band released three albums, all of them masterful expressions of alt-country. Adams' solo career has had its up and downs, but his work with Whiskeytown should be required listening for anyone interested in the genre.
2B. Son Volt
After the implosion of Uncle Tupelo, Jeff Tweedy started Wilco and Jay Farrar began Son Volt. Although Wilco's debut effort A.M. is really the only one that can be considered truly alt-country, Son Volt's entire catalogue fits the bill quite nicely.
1. Uncle Tupelo The Holy Grail of alt-country, Uncle Tupelo featured two singer/songwriters that defined the movement itself. Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy made only four albums together, but all of them were great and all of them influenced countless individuals to start mixing Merle Haggard and Hüsker Dü.
Honorable mentions: Some may quibble with my 1990 starting point, but going back all the way to Gram Parsons and the Flying Burrito Brothers seemed a bit far-fetched. Ironically, the best "alt-country" album may well be Cuba from the Silos. Released in 1987, Cuba is a lost classic that truly belongs next to the Byrds' Sweetheart of the Rodeo as the pinnacle of mixing country and rock. Today, it's all called Americana anyway.
See Also: - Son Volt's Jay Farrar on Honky Tonk, Ralph Mooney and Bending the Rules - The Bottle Rockets' Brian Henneman On The New Record And Learning Banjo - Ten Years Later, Yankee Hotel Foxtrot is Still Wilco's Masterpiece
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