Bottle Rockets Lean Forward

With all of the Uncle Tupelo nostalgia inevitably generated by new Wilco and Son Volt releases, it's often easy to forget that Brian Henneman played a crucial role in creating the UT sound, which came to define alt-country. While Henneman has never been as much of a critical darling as Jeff Tweedy or Jay Farrar, due to his generally meat-and-potatoes approach, the arrival of a new Bottle Rockets record is still an event. Lean Forward finds them back with Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, producer of their best-known '90s albums, and the overall sound is a throwback to those times. Henneman's guitar playing is suitably crunchy as always, combining Neil Young raunch and Billy Gibbons blooze, while the song titles reflect his ongoing commitment to documenting the realities of Middle America: "Hard Times," "Kid Next Door" and "Get On The Bus." The Bottle Rockets are about as unpretentious as rock'n'roll gets right now but with so few legitimate working-class poets anymore, Brian Henneman's songs stand out like a Camaro at a Toyota dealership. (Bloodshot)