Not So Loud
A quintessential rock and twang bar band out of Festus, MO going back to their beginnings in the early 1990s, it wasn't until a release of leftover tracks in 1998 appropriately titled "Leftovers" did the Bottle Rockets display their acoustic side on record. While there were flashes on prior albums, the song "Get Down River," inspired by the mighty Mississippi running so close to Festus, showed the band could deliver the goods as good in the stripped-down fashion as they could full-on electric. Those "flashes" continued in the ensuing years on subsequent albums. With the newly released Not So Loud, the Bottle Rockets offer up a satisfying, big gulp of wood and wire. Recorded before a live audience at a circa-1898 St. Louis schoolhouse over a couple of evenings in the spring of 2007, Not So Loud is the Bottle Rockets getting back to basics and unplugging for 13 tracks from their now lengthy catalogue. The playing is excellent and the stories behind the songs as recited by front man Brian Henneman prior to each track only enhances the listening experience. Visit www.bloodshotrecords.com.
T. Jarrod Bonta
Music Room Records
Country, boogie-woogie, and jazz piano player T. Jarrod Bonta has been mostly a behind the scenes fixture on the Austin music scene as a sideman going back to the late 1990s. It was at the end of that decade that he jumped into the spotlight, ever so briefly, via a now out-of-print 45 RPM featuring a couplet of solid honky tonk originals, trickling piano and all. Whereas there was a swing-leaning jazzy album in 2008 from he and his quartet, it took a dozen years for the country side of Bonta to surface again. White Lines breaks the drought and features a dozen songs in the classic country style (i.e., not likely to be heard on your favorite FM country channel anytime soon), 11 of which are from the pen of Bonta. Playing piano and singing in his own debonair style with backing from some of the best of the Austin honky tonk scene, White Lines is one of those under-the-radar gems that should wear well on the ears of those who like their country real and authentic.
(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.)