It’s the rare rock star who, after reaching the age of 50, can still seem as cool as he did at 25. (We’ll make an exception for Tom Waits, who seems like he’s been 50 for the past 25 years.) And into this minuscule club we now induct John Doe, whose latest solo album is proof that there’s life after punk.
On A Year in the Wilderness, Doe, a founding member of the Los Angeles punk band X, doesn’t try to recapture faded glories or force himself to embrace 21st-century experimentalism — he just makes great head-nodding rock and roll that’s as straight-ahead as the 405 (on a good, traffic-free day). And in bright duets with other authentic adults like Jill Sobule and Aimee Mann, he lets go of his youthful petulance and allows himself to see why his home turf is called the Golden State. Had Doe’s younger self known he’d turn out so well-adjusted, he might have actually smiled — or at least stopped sneering.
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