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Bottle Rockets

The Bottle Rockets and The Brooklyn Side (deluxe reissue) – 2013 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Dan MacIntosh

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It can safely said The Bottle Rockets were alt.-country before alt.-country was cool, and this reissue of the band's first two albums from the early '90s is proof of that. Although this extensive repackaging includes contributions from Uncle Tupelo's Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar, The Bottle Rockets never achieved the same commercial success of such acts as Drive-By Truckers and the like. And that's a shame.

A song like Wave That Flag, which criticizes those that glory in the Confederate flag, without truly comprehending what it represents (particularly regarding slavery) and the beautifully lustful Gas Girl, are both excellent representations of a band playing with its A-game. Much like Drive-By Truckers, The Bottle Rockets are unafraid of facing their Southern-ness, with all its contradictions. Songs like Rural Route< and Trailer Mama deal realistically with Southern life, instead of wearing roots like a phony badge of honor the way too many mainstream country artists do these days. Best of all, they know how to rock legitimately when they want to, which they convincingly do with Radar Gun.

The Bottle Rockets are still alive and kicking, which means the rerelease of this music is not just some posthumous honor. That means you can relive some of these fantastic alt.-country songs in all their live glory as well. There's a lot of music to digest here (46 total) on two CDs, as well as a 40-page booklet, so if you're unfamiliar with the band going in, you'll be kind of an expert when you're finished. Such an education is time well spent, though.