Compact Capsules for August 5, 2009
by Dan Ferguson
American Central Dust
The Bottle Rockets
They were the poster bands for the early heyday of the No Depression movement. A dozen years later, Son Volt, Wilco and The Bottle Rockets are still here and while there's been personnel changes, new releases from each proves each is going strong.
Son Volt explored new dimensions in sound on 2007 release The Search. No doubt it worried fans. The new American Central Dust is a rewarding return to the heartland sturm and twang of its initial two releases, Trace (1995) and Straightaways (1997). Jay Farrar's plaintive voice and songs are given righteous treatment by the revamped band lineup. The subject matter, while mostly dour (What else does one expect from Farrar?), is right in line with the McMurtry side of hard-hitting songwriting.
Wilco (the album) finds the band patching together stylistic elements from past releases into a record which at first listen had me scratching my head what to think. Equals parts quiet, experimental and lavish with a distinct, underlying pop sensibility, subsequent listens found it sinking in its hooks. In other words, staying power. It also offers two of the prettiest moments in Wilco history with the Jeff Tweedy/Feist duet "You and I" and the Beatles-esque "I'll Fight".
2008 marked 15 years in the music-making business for The Bottle Rockets. The Missouri-based foursome kick off the next 15 with Lean Forward. It reunites them with producer Eric Ambel who helmed the band's groundbreaking albums The Brooklyn Side and 24 Hours a Day. Lean Forward offers a healthy serving of the signature meat and potatoes rock and working class anthems that first established the band. (Visit www.sonvolt.net, www.wilcoworld.net, or www.bottlerocketsmusic.com.)
(Dan Ferguson is a free-lance music writer and host of The Boudin Barndance, broadcast Thursday nights from 6 - 9 pm on WRIU-FM 90.3. He lives in Peace Dale and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)