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CULTURE Alejandro Escovedo PHOTO BY MARINA CHAVEZ Bold, striving, sin-soaked, redemption seeking songs. CRITIC’S NOTEBOOK Love, Straight-Up by Josh Rosenblatt ACK IN THE EARLY ’80s AN AUSTIN BAND MANAGED TO BLEND THE brashness of punk with the riffs of bar rock and country twang. That’s no small feat. Punks tend to disdain the retrogloss and masculinity of classic rock, and most country musicians have no patience for spiky hair and permanent sneers. The band was the True Believers, founded by Texas native Alejandro Escovedo. What the True Believers lacked in subtlety they made up for in energy and volume, and their live shows became famous for their drunken abandon. HEAR a public radio story on Escovedo’s struggle with hep C at txto.comitribute The True Believers have been gone for decades, but Escovedo has never stopped making music. In the meantime, the skinny, ardent Mexican-American kid from San Antonio who couldn’t decide if he wanted to be Joe Strummer, Roger McGuinn or Bruce Springsteen became himself. He also became a godfather of alt-country. His stature grew after Escovedo almost died of hepatitis C in 2005, but came back with an album of catharsis and contemplation, 2006’s The Boxing Mirror, produced by one of his mentors, the Velvet Underground’s John Cale. Escovedo’s newest album, Street Songs of Love \(out ute to all things amor. It’s full of bold, striving, sinsoaked, redemption-seeking songs that roots-rock fans flock to at summer festivals. Opener “Anchor” sounds like Tom Petty’s “Refugee” sewn together with the Clash’s “London Calling.” It’s just a straight