Check Out This Jam: Vic Chesnutt, The Grouch, Metric, Tim Barry, Wheat, Richard Hawley, Owen Pallett, Great Job and Gil Scott-Heron

Welcome to Check Out This Jam!!!, a new weekly feature here on DC9. The idea's pretty simple: It's a chance for us writers to shed some light on the music we've been enjoying of late, regardless of the touring or album release schedules that tend to bear the focus of most of our coverage. Don't think about it too much. Just go on and check out these jams, dude. 

For about a month now--since Vic Chesnutt's death on Christmas Day--I've been quietly obsessing over the amazing "Isadora Duncan" off of 1990's Little. Fitting, I suppose, since Duncan (modern dance's matriarch) also suffered a most tragic death and was a controversial legend underrated in her own time... --Merritt Martin

Every time I dust off some old stuff from The Grouch of the Living Legends, I wonder why he never made it big. Boasting an incredible rap voice--as well as the humor and swagger that seem ready for commercial attention--Grouch's earlier work approaches that tenuous place where underground hip-hop and mainstream rap almost never intersect. With timeless beats (also produced by Grouch) and a laundry list of appearances from L.A.'s 1990s hip-hop canon, his 2000 release, Making Perfect Sense, is a must-have for purists of the genre. --Nic Hernandez

"Sick Muse" by Metric has been in heavy rotation for me for a couple of months. The simplistic guitar and backing vocals grab your attention, but it's the seriously killer hook that keeps me coming back. And back. And back. --Lance Lester

Tim Barry's startlingly raw tales, complete with a fair amount of both grit and grim show that a punk singer can go folk without selling his tortured soul. The intensity of Barry's vocal performance on the new 28th and Stonewall suggest that he hasn't ever really needed his old Avail bandmates to help him bring the pain. --Kelly Dearmore

I've been listening a lot to Wheat's 1999 release, Hope and Adams. The album was recently reissued, and as it turns out it's a terrific winter jam. It's a perfect example of how I like my Midwest indie pop: lo-fi, melancholy, and chilled out. --Daniel Hopkins

I heard Richard Hawley's music a few years ago at a birthday party, but it's only been in the last month that I've really checked out his entire catalog. This is a beautiful blend of yearning, melancholy pop that can make you smile, especially on his albums Coles Corner and Lady's Bridge. --Eric Grubbs

I've been listening to Heartland, the new album from Owen Pallett (formerly Final Fantasy), all week long. It's theatrical, skillfully orchestrated, and, at times, Pallett's voice finds itself almost indistinguishable from that of Beirut's Zach Condon. Which is a good thing. Take a listen to "Midnight Directives", one of my personal favorite tracks off the new album. Or listen to the album in its entirety on Owen Pallett's MySpace page. --Catherine Downes

Despite the fact that this Tucson quintet employs a traditionally bluegrass instrumentation, Great Job still manages to create some of the catchiest singalong-style pop music I've heard in quite some time. Mix in some catchy melodies, careful arrangements, overly witty lyrics, and Fishboy-like vocals and the result is one of the most promising acts currently busking around Tuck Town. Take a listen to "Nu Song" on the band's Myspace page for proof. --Cory Graves

Gil Scott-Heron is an old hero of mine. I first heard him in high school after Reagan was re-elected, and his blistering criticism of Reagan played a large part of in my own political awakening. No, Heron's spoken word style isn't for everyone, but he is a legitimate poet. And nNow comes word that, after years without any new material, he's got a new album about to hit the streets. The new effort is called I'm New Here and it's a pretty tremendous record. Check out the above video for the album's first single, called "Me and The Devil." It's pretty creepy, to say the least. --Darryl Smyers