The Bottle Rockets
Along with Uncle Tupelo, Missouri's Bottle Rockets have to be considered the godfathers of the '90s alt-country/roots-rock revival. Their sophomore effort, The Brooklyn Side, stands alongside Too Far to Care from the Old 97's as a landmark recording made during the movement's brief heyday. Since 1994, singer/guitarist Brian Henneman has led a variety of lineups through the course of being dumped by a major label and bouncing back with a competent batch of indie country-rock efforts. Pleasantly loud while playing tribute to Rust Never Sleeps, the Bottle Rockets, sadly, became just another great bar band.
Zoysia finds Henneman recharged by the economic and foreign policy failings of the Bush administration. Still mining those ever-sturdy Crazy Horse riffs, Henneman finds a way to incorporate soul and Southern funk into the roar while examining the personal toll W. and his ilk have taken upon the American middle class. "Better than Broken" and "Suffering Servant" are thoughtful examinations that never descend into rote, political rants by focusing on the day-to-day interactions of common people trying to make ends meet.
Still firmly grounded in greasy (and noisy), country shuffles, the Bottle Rockets have received a surprising rejuvenation by widening their margins. The playful call-and-response backing vocals on "I Quit" would have never appeared on previous efforts, but on Zoysia, such new wrinkles only add to the detailed characterizations--real folks taking solstice in beer and camaraderie--while cynically eyeing the powers that be.
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