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When John Doe, Exene Cervenka, and DJ Bonebrake from X teamed up with Dave Alvin from the Blasters and Jonny Ray Bartel from the Red Devils to form the Knitters 20 years ago, alt-country was not the formalized genre it has become. Sure, there were cowpunk outfits, but not enough of ’em to make hearing the onetime “We’re Desperate” duo’s high-lonesome wail any less attention-grabbing. On The Modern Sounds of the Knitters, these entertainers are back with unplugged X songs, folkified traditionals, and Steppenwolf’s “Born to be Wild.” Though the group’s sound is no longer singular and the record’s last cut demonstrates that these guys can turn anything into Americana kitsch, Doe and Cervenka’s ragged but heartfelt harmonies on Doe’s “Try Anymore (Why Don’t We Even)” and the traditional “Little Margaret” still manage to transcend. The Knitters play at 7:30 p.m. at the Birchmere, 3701 Mt. Vernon Ave., Alexandria. $20. (703) 549-7500. (Steve Kiviat)