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Bottle Rockets

Not So Loud: An Acoustic Evening with the Bottle Rockets – 2011 (Bloodshot)

Reviewed by Stuart Munro

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Sooner or later, it seems, every band makes a live record. And it also seems that sooner or later, every band - or at least every electric band - unplugs for an acoustic one. After nine releases and almost two decades in the business, the Bottle Rockets have turned down the rock to kill both of those birds with the aptly-named "Not So Loud."

Its acoustic element gives you re-workings and different angles on songs drawn from across the band's recording career. That's particularly so, naturally enough, in regard to those - like Gravity Fails, Rural Route, and Thousand Dollar Car, rendered here as a banjo - and harmonica-fuelled bitter hoedown - that, in their original incarnation, manifested the rocking side of the Bottle Rockets.

In some cases - Smokin' 100's Alone and Kerosene, to name two - the acoustic treatment serves to amplify the intensity that's already at the heart of the song; overall, it brings out the strength of the songwriting that beats within.

As for the live element, that gives you band fulcrum Brian Henneman's typically informative, often hilarious, and always entertaining between-song comments and commentaries, whether he's explaining how a frustrated attempt to see Dolly Parton inspired Perfect Far Away or how the band's Doug Sahm tribute came to be. At one point, he characterizes what they're up to here as "self-indulgent," but this is a genuine, worthy addition to the Bottle Rockets catalog.