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Dog Days

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Veteran honky-tonkers BR549 got a much-needed dose of fresh energy when young firebrand Chris Scruggs joined the group for 2004's Tangled in the Pines—and then lost it again when he promptly quit the band. That leaves founding member Chuck Mead to take charge all by his lonesome on BR549's fifth album. Dog Days lacks the punch of Pines, but nonetheless slides by on its easygoing, low-key charm and the dry wit of inspired weirdness like "Let Jesus Make You Breakfast." The highlight, though, is a more serious moment, the unexpectedly timely "After the Hurricane."

—Chris Neal

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