Before Joe Pernice crooned breathy baroque pop and garnered comparisons to Colin Blunstone, he crooned breathy Americana and garnered comparisons to Colin Blunstone. The Early Year is an awesome twofer comprising Scud Mountain Boys’ first two albums from 1995: Dance the Night Away and Pine Box. Prior to playing medicated twang, the Northampton, Mass.–based Boys called themselves The Scuds and played rock ‘n’ roll, but having grown tired of loud amps and lugging gear, they reformed as a mostly acoustic, kitchen-table recording band just in time for the mid-'90s alt-country movement. Comparisons to Son Volt and Will Oldham aren't far off, as the opening song, “Silo,” can attest to with its rootsy minimalism and Pernice’s buttery inflections. In the beautifully stark “Reservoir,” his velvety voice goes head-to-head with Bruce Tull’s twangy guitar, echoing moments of brilliance from The Byrds’ Ballad of Easy Rider. The Scud Mountain Boys' cover of Olivia Newton John’s “Please, Mr. Please” is sublime, and they also turn Cher’s “Gypsies, Tramps and Thieves” into something as beautiful as the rendition of “Woodstock” by Matthews' Southern Comfort.