Music

Bottle Rockets: Not So Loud

Hellraising fans of the raucous electric Bottle Rockets live show may be taken aback by the stripped down revisitations here, but the snapshots of life and love on Not So Loud are all the more poignant in stripped-down form.


Bottle Rockets

Not So Loud

Label: Bloodshot
US Release Date: 2011-08-16
Amazon
iTunes

While the Midwestern heartland of America has been a hotbed of roots rock for decades, it has also proved to be somewhat of a musical Bermuda Triangle. Bands like The Skeletons, The Texas Instruments, and Dash Rip Rock packed many a bar in the '80s and '90s, but like the scores of others cut from that thrift store cloth, they failed to catch the freak indie-rock wave that carried bands like Uncle Tupelo towards larger success. The splintering of Uncle Tupelo in 1996 fostered the Jay Farrar-led Son Volt as well as Wilco, helmed by Jeff Tweedy. Wilco’s debut A.M. featured lead guitar work from fellow Festus, MO string slinger Brian Henneman, himself a late-period UT touring sideman.

Henneman demurred to guitarist/keysman Jay Bennett in the touring Wilco lineup, as he helmed his own band called The Bottle Rockets, local favorite sons infamous for putting out one of the most rip-roaring live shows you could ever have the pleasure of hearing. Bottle Rockets ultimately found commercial success to be as elusive as their predecessors. An ill-fated union with Atlantic offered a fleeting chance of crossover success in the late '90s, but today, in the wake of poor sales, great records like their self-titled debut and 1998’s The Brooklyn Side lie fallow. Both those early releases are currently out of print, as is their Atlantic output, leaving most of their early output only available via the 2006 Live In Heilbronn record.

While time cannot be accused of being especially kind to Bottle Rockets, the passing years have obviously left founding members Henneman and Mark Ortmann not only older, but wiser. Perhaps most paramount is that Henneman has embraced sobriety in recent years. That lifestyle change and years of ear-splitting live shows have found more acoustic shows finding their way into the Bottle Rockets performance schedule. Appropriate, as most of the BR canon was written on acoustic, but no official release had ever captured that side of the band. Luckily, we can now consider that situation rectified.

Not So Loud comes courtesy of your friends at Bloodshot Records, capturing tracks from two live acoustic shows the band recorded earlier this year in a converted St. Louis schoolhouse called Lucas School House. Now shuttered, the venue was lauded for its second floor gymnasium, a room considered one of the finest venues in St. Louis. Thirteen tracks were culled from two sold-out shows and are captured on Not So Loud for your listening pleasure. The proceedings open on a nostalgic note with a faithful take on "Early In The Morning", a song recognizable to long-time fans as the opening track to their eponymous ESD debut. Drummer Mark Ortmann is the only mainstay from that initial lineup, with guitarist John Horton and Keith Voegele joining the fold over their last two Bloodshot releases. The four have coalesced nicely over the last four or five years, and the synergy is palpable. Horton is a particularly sympathetic foil to Henneman here, playing pretty much anything with strings. Brian Henneman is a formidable presence despite his self-deprecating banter. His stories about the tracks on "Not So Loud" lend evidence to the fact that he is equally dangerous with a songwriting pen and acoustic or electric six-strings. Hell-raising fans of the raucous electric Bottle Rockets live show may be taken aback by the stripped down revisitations here, but the snapshots of life and love on Not So Loud are all the more poignant in stripped-down form, asserting Bottle Rockets as one of the finest roots rock bands in America today.

7
Music

The Best Metal of 2017

Painting by Mariusz Lewandowski. Cover of Bell Witch's Mirror Reaper.

There's common ground between all 20 metal albums despite musical differences: the ability to provide a cathartic release for the creator and the consumer alike, right when we need it most.

With global anxiety at unprecedented high levels it is important to try and maintain some personal equilibrium. Thankfully, metal, like a spiritual belief, can prove grounding. To outsiders, metal has always been known for its escapism and fantastical elements; but as most fans will tell you, metal is equally attuned to the concerns of the world and the internal struggles we face and has never shied away from holding a mirror up to man's inhumanity.

Keep reading... Show less

In Americana music the present is female. Two-thirds of our year-end list is comprised of albums by women. Here, then, are the women (and a few men) who represented the best in Americana in 2017.

If a single moment best illustrates the current divide between Americana music and mainstream country music, it was Sturgill Simpson busking in the street outside the CMA Awards in Nashville. While Simpson played his guitar and sang in a sort of renegade-outsider protest, Garth Brooks was onstage lip-syncindg his way to Entertainer of the Year. Americana music is, of course, a sprawling range of roots genres that incorporates traditional aspects of country, blues, soul, bluegrass, etc., but often represents an amalgamation or reconstitution of those styles. But one common aspect of the music that Simpson appeared to be championing during his bit of street theater is the independence, artistic purity, and authenticity at the heart of Americana music. Clearly, that spirit is alive and well in the hundreds of releases each year that could be filed under Americana's vast umbrella.

Keep reading... Show less

Two recently translated works -- Lydie Salvayre's Cry, Mother Spain and Joan Sales' Uncertain Glory -- bring to life the profound complexity of an early struggle against fascism, the Spanish Civil War.

There are several ways to write about the Spanish Civil War, that sorry three-year prelude to World War II which saw a struggling leftist democracy challenged and ultimately defeated by a fascist military coup.

Keep reading... Show less
8

If the idea is that earth, water, fire, air and space constitute the core elements of life, then these five songs might seem as their equivalents to surviving the complications that come from embracing the good and enduring the ugly of the Christmas season.

Memory will never serve us well when it comes to Christmas and all its surrounding complications. Perhaps worse than the financial and familial pressures, the weather and the mad rush to consume and meet expectations, to exceed what happened the year before, are the floods of lists and pithy observations about Christmas music. We know our favorite carols and guilty pleasures ("O Come All Ye Faithful", "Silent Night"), the Vince Guaraldi Trio's music for 1965's A Charlie Brown Christmas that was transcendent then and (for some, anyway) has lost none of its power through the years, and we embrace the rock songs (The Kink's "Father Christmas", Greg Lake's "I Believe In Father Christmas", and The Pretenders' "2000 Miles".) We dismiss the creepy sexual predator nature in any rendition of "Baby, It's Cold Outside", the inanity of Alvin and the Chipmunks, and pop confections like "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus".

Keep reading... Show less
Film

'Foxtrot' Is a 'Catch-22' for Our Time

Giora Bejach in Fox Trot (2017 / IMDB)

Samuel Maoz's philosophical black comedy is a triptych of surrealism laced with insights about warfare and grief that are both timeless and timely.

There's no rule that filmmakers need to have served in the military to make movies about war. Some of the greatest war movies were by directors who never spent a minute in basic (Coppola, Malick). Still, a little knowledge of the terrain helps. A filmmaker who has spent time hugging a rifle on watch understands things the civilian never can, no matter how much research they might do. With a director like Samuel Maoz, who was a tank gunner in the Israeli army and has only made two movies in eight years, his experience is critical.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image