While easily comparable to R.E.M.
, Train travel a little farther south, stopping in Allman Brothers
country. Ballads like "If You Leave" and "Homesick" could be mistaken for early demos by Athens's most beloved sons, but when the guitar solos kick in, it's classic Southern goodness. Luckily, Train don't derail themselves by sticking solely to greasy jams and high-wire guitar acrobatics. The San Francisco-based five-piece keep their slice-of-life sound simple and lean, never overdoing what doesn't need to be overdone. Frontman Patrick Monahan has a voice that was made for this material. Bearing an uncanny vocal resemblance to Blues Traveler
's John Popper, he slip-slides from one drunken heartbreak to another, but always gets up, brushes the dirt off his jeans, and keeps on living. --Jason Josephes