4. Love Is Hell (2004): Ryan Adams (ostensibly) plays country music, but his real musical loves -- as he has stated time and again -- are Britpop and heavy metal. His metal chops are, of course, pathetic, but his forays into Britpop have been immensely engaging. Love Is Hell features a cover of an Oasis song (a devastating take on "Wonderwall") and an ode to Beth Orton ("English Girls, Approximately") alongside much of Adams's best Marr-worship on guitar. But none of it really sounds like the source material; it's a uniquely depressive strain of American country filtered through numerous British musical paradigms (or vice versa, perhaps). Love Is Hell has some missteps (the Jeff Buckley-aping "Political Scientist" is a slog) but it has some of the most emotionally raw material to be found in Adams's catalog. Initially (and idiotically) released as two EPs for contractual reasons, the second half of the album (or Love Is Hell, Part 2, if you prefer) is flawless: stark, intense, harrowing.