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BEST BAND TO BREAK UP IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS Minneapolis 2005 - Hank & Ruth

Low's latest, The Great Destroyer, contains a terrific tune called "Death of a Salesman," in which a Willie Loman figure takes up songwriting, but his friends insist "music's for fools," so he gives it up and burns his guitar to feed his family. The song could have been written by any number of ex-rockers who've cashed in their dreams and plowed the straight and narrow, but most specifically it could have been written by Phil Bayer, an ace tunesmith who last year broke out of his adulthood-long musical exile to team with singing partner Shawn Gibbons in the roots duo Hank & Ruth. Bayer's songs contain the sort of lived-in, bald-faced truths that resonate with anyone who has ever worn the sinner/saint/winner/failure crown, and the pair's harmonies suggested the second coming of Gillian Welch and David Rawlings. After releasing their promising debut America's Pastime and receiving positive notices from gigs at the Fine Line and Lee's, the pair disappeared without a trace. Potential is a bitch, but these guys had it in spades. Here's hoping they resurface soon, in one incarnation or another.

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