Currently based in Saint Louis, the Bottle Rockets have long been a band singing songs for all working-class folks in America. Since their first record was released in 1992, the Brian Henneman-led group has been closely associated with the alt-country boom of the mid-1990s thanks, on the one hand, to the band's roots-rock sound and, on the other, to Henneman's close involvement with the godfathers of alt-country, Uncle Tupelo, with whom he served as a guitar tech and occasional extra member.
These days, only Henneman and drummer Mark Ortman remain from the original line-up, but a new Bottle Rockets album is on its way very soon. Tomorrow night, in fact, they'll be visiting Dallas for a show at The Foundry. So, with apologies to killer tunes such as "Radar Gun," "Lucky Break," "The Long Way" and "Smokin' 100s Alone," here are the five best Bottle Rockets songs.
5. "$1,000 Car" This true-to-life tale encapsulates many of the qualities that make Bottle Rockets songs a joy. Frank language delivered in a rough-hewn poetic fashion about real life shit with a catchy tune behind it will almost always result in a great rock song.
4. "Happy Anniversary" This knife-to-the-gut tune is from the band's somewhat overlooked 2007 album Zoysia. Any song that refers to "melancholy trousers" and a "masochistic shirt" is a great one in our book.
3. "Welfare Music" For ardent Bottle Rockets supporters, this 1994 number is a classic that Henneman must listen to shouted requests for during pretty much every show. (Heads-up: the same can be said for the next couple of tunes, as well). But there's a reason for that. Again, better than so many other groups, the Bottle Rockets relay the often-dismal life of working-class middle America in a way that engages, entertains and enlightens.
2. "Get Down River" Just like the Boss singing about Jersey, this tune from the band's Leftovers LP is a hometown song that only a group closely tied to that land could believably offer. When Henneman sings, "Once again, you've messed up this whole town," it's a visible, exhausted anger aimed directly at the Mississippi River that has flooded and ruined so many lives of families the group has known over the years.
1. "Indianapolis" A Bottle Rockets show will never be complete without this motorized, revved-up lament from 1997's 24 Hours a Day . Henneman doesnt need to get overly obtuse with his messages. He really means it when he says he'll "puke" if he hears another Mellencamp song while he's waiting "down at the Firestone." Of course, he only arrived at the garage after getting a ride in the tow truck driven by a sex-offender named Joe. So, it's easy to see why Henneman truthfully wants to know if he's in "Hell or Indianapolis."