Sarabeth Tucek and Josh T Pearson are the Charlie Sheens it's OK to follow

Two of this year's most striking albums are immensely candid rock confessionals. Should we feel dirty for listening in?

It's all very well trying to be highbrow about celebrity gossip and public trauma; picking Popbitch over Perez Hilton, Harper's over Heat, and making the executive decision not to follow Charlie Sheen on Twitter. But when it comes to cringe-inducing overshare, most songwriters could run rings around Kerry Katona. Those words scrawled gaudily across red-tops – drink, drugs, divorce – are spanners that come as standard in any self-respecting songwriter's toolbox, yet the tang of guilt at indulging in them isn't nearly as strong.

Various combinations of traumatic experience form the backbone of the newest albums from Sarabeth Tucek and Josh T Pearson. If there were such a thing as the indie tabloid press (no snide remarks from the back, please), the lives of both would make prime front-page fare. LA resident Tucek started making music after meeting the notoriously volatile Anton Newcombe of the Brian Jonestown Massacre – she even crops up in Dig! – and after a spell working with Bill Callahan, she won acclaim for her self-titled debut album on London indie Sonic Cathedral. Her life then began to change in the manner that such plentiful plaudits tend to dictate; ie for the worst. She was arrested for drunk driving and ended up in jail twice, cleaning the highway in an orange jumpsuit. Once released, she moved back to New York to be with her mother, where she wrote Get Well Soon. This new record deals with the death of her father, who had a heart attack while out rowing when Tucek was a child, the grief in turn nearly killing her. It's an uneasy listen as one might imagine, made as "a reminder to keep [herself] well", a talisman to survive future strife.

Ten years after his former band Lift To Experience made their sole album The Texas-Jerusalem Crossroads, Josh T Pearson is finally forging the solo career that his die-hard fans had long been angling for. In fact, it was a group of fans approaching him after a gig and telling him how much his music touched them that pushed Pearson to record The Last Of The Country Gentlemen. It's a torrid account of a relationship gone desperately sour – even violent in parts – that sees Josh rambling within his songs' loose, long borders. He's often incredibly gauche, particularly about sex and who he wishes he could be doing it with, and has admitted of such full-frontal exposure, "I don't think I'll do it again."

While it's fairly normal to feel a tad superior to the Sheen rubberneckers, gawking at Pearson and Tucek's respective breakdowns doesn't feel nearly as reprehensible, which is odd, really; you can't very well be snobbish about your preferred strain of voyeurism. With Tucek and Pearson, at least, one can take solace from the belief that the baring of their souls was entirely deliberate.

Sarabeth Tucek's UK tour begins at the Camden Crawl, NW1, on 30 Apr; Josh T Pearson And Guests play the Barbican Hall, EC1, 26 Nov


Laura Snapes

The GuardianTramp

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