Court & Spark cohorts MC Taylor and Scott Hirsch deftly avoid country mouse/city mouse clichés to craft a gorgeous Americana opus that’s an instant classic.

Even back when Hiss Golden Messenger frontman MC Taylor and Brooklyn-based guitarist Scott Hirsch played together in indie-twang troupe the Court & Spark, they shared a love of well-crafted songs trimmed in exquisite guitar tones. At one time, they even got the Byrds’ Gene Parsons to bend his B string all over a couple of songs.

With their fifth studio album, Lateness of Dancers, Taylor and Hirsch’s musical chemistry has braided together in even more beautiful similarities and contrasts. “Saturday’s Song” is an ageless yet fresh-sounding addition to the hymnal for just-got-paid working people everywhere. Taylor’s nascent North Carolina drawl seeps into Hirsch’s acoustic 6-string voicings like honey in tea, and the sonic brew is then spiked with a solo in which Hirsch’s nimble arpeggiations are the picture of sharp, cosmopolitan cool.

But the sum of these parts is hardly a country mouse/city mouse cliché: With help from Southern folk-rock dignitaries like William Tyler (Lambchop, Silver Jews), Phil and Brad Cook (Megafaun), and Alexandra Sauser-Monnig (Mountain Man), Hiss Golden Messenger is rewriting and adding to the public domain of timeless Americana.

How an Italia Speedster, a sturdy Jazz bass, and a little “sad chorus” can kickstart an international dance party.

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See a sampling of picks used by famous guitarists over the years.

Marty Stuart

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Luthier Dave Helmer shows you how to cure buzzy strings, bad intonation, gnarly frets, high action, and other common troubles with off-the-shelf axes.

Guitars are the best. We love them. It’s fun to fall in love with a guitar at a store, buy it, and proudly bring it home. But we’ve all been there … where after a month that new guitar is just not playing as good as it was before. As guitar players, we know what feels good and what feels bad when it comes to playability. Maybe you have setup preferences that you like on all your guitars, or maybe you want to experiment with changes to your setup?

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