Brother Cane -- _Wishpool_ (Virgin Records)

Okay, let's say that in 1995, you released one of the best, deepest, most underrated rock albums of the decade. Now you have to put out the follow-up. What would you change?

If your answer was "nothing," then you agree with me and Brother Cane. Their 1995 opus "Seeds" was simply awesome, planting the #1 rock radio hit "And Fools Shine On" and bursting with 11 other killer tracks. Now comes "Wishpool," and they haven't slipped a bit. Their Southern-inflected, dark hard rock -- sort of a mix of Alice In Chains, Stone Temple Pilots, and the Black Crowes -- is rootsy and modern, deep and atmospheric, solid and subtly seductive.

During my first listen to the album, I missed some of its fine points, with only the single "I Lie In The Bed I Make" and the haunting melodies of "Mirror Ball" really grabbing me. But that first listen showed the depth of the album; this isn't modern rock ear candy, this is serious musical nourishment. After repeated listens, I got more of it, like the hooky hard rock energy of the title track and "The Crow Flies," the lean insistence of "Look For Something More," and the sweet, flowing melancholy of "Human After All." And I know there's even more waiting for me. There are no weak tracks here, just favorites I haven't met.

Brother Cane's Southern-Harmony-and-Purple-Dirt music mix works again, leaving no doubt that the adventurous and affecting brilliance of "Seeds" was no fluke. If you're willing to put multiple listens into an album before it reveals all its charms to you, "Wishpool" may be as rewarding a modern rock experience as you'll have all year.

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