Kevin Devine

Like major-league closers, modern-rock musicians tend to specialize in the high hard stuff. Still, that doesn't mean fans of the genre reject any and all softer sounds — and that's where Kevin Devine comes in. A generation ago, Devine, who's opening for Annuals, Manchester Orchestra and New Frontiers, wouldn't have seemed like an alternative to anything; he'd qualify as a solidly mainstream singer-songwriter. Today, however, songs of the sort that make up 2006's Put Your Ghost to Rest, his Capitol Records debut, are promoted with the college market in mind, as if only the young and intellectual could possibly handle them. That's nonsense: Even Devine's heaviest tracks — e.g., "Like Cursing Kids" — represent melodic, sometimes melancholy pop, not feedback-drenched workouts. The relaxed intimacy of Devine's material will undoubtedly appeal to those modern-rockers ready to take a swing at a change-up.

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