The Bottle Rockets: 24 Hours A Day

The Bottle Rockets: 24 Hours A Day

While a love of roots country music may be the factor that unites the various alt.country/Americana/No Depression bands, interpretations of this influence are remarkably diverse, as is illustrated by new releases from The Bottle Rockets and The Derailers. For the follow-up to 1995's The Brooklyn Side, The Bottle Rockets discarded some of the intrusive Lynyrd Skynyrd influences that somewhat marred that otherwise fine album. Tighter, stronger songwriting has taken the place of extended solos, and the improvement is substantial. Songs like "Indianapolis" and "Smokin' 100's Alone" are as strong as anything singer/songwriter Brian Henneman has produced, and stand out on an already solid album. While the members of The Bottle Rockets continue to explore the connection between country and rock, the members of The Derailers seem happy sticking mostly with country—specifically the California variety popularized by Buck Owens and others in the '50s and '60s—while bringing in occasional rockabilly and Latin influences. It works extremely well. As is true of Robbie Fulks, you can't just lump The Derailers in with other country/rock bands, because the band seems to be exploring a pure vein of country rather than some hybrid. Also like Fulks, it does so without sounding the least bit bogged down in the past. However much it may rely on older material for inspiration, there's not a track on the Dave Alvin-produced Reverb Deluxe that doesn't sound fresh, like the best bar band in the world on a really, really good night.

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