Blue Rags Eat at Joe’s

Blue Rags seem like a band that has read its turn-of-the-century Midwest American naturalism: the cover art is a dense collage of iconography from both the agricultural and industrial heartland. That, plus the fact that the album was released on the Sub Pop imprint, makes the Blue Rags’ rollicking barrelhouse roots rock hard to read. It’s tempting to dismiss them as slacker casualties overdosing on irony while snickering at traditional forms, but they may well be the logical offspring of Dr. John rebelling against the arena-rock spawn of Nirvana. While they’re clearly having irreverent fun with their many antecedents, there’s something that rings consistently true across Eat At Joe’s; at least they’ve learned the genres they so liberally poach from. In their broad sweep across American music, the Blue Rags echo Dylan’s Blonde On Blonde, but their ambitions aren’t nearly so lofty. They seem perfectly content to record late-century rock’n’roll redolent of the past, as if hosting a drunken reunion of rock with its roots. (Sub Pop)