Bottle Rockets Brand New Year

Brand New Year, the boys’ fifth LP on their fourth label, finds the BoRox sliding to the rockier side of the alt-country equation with the Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top and Crazy Horse influences coming to the fore. But, while it may superficially sound rockier, there’s still a lot of twang at the heart of the music. A lot of the licks coulda been Waylon or Billie Joe Shaver, and the sensibility, if not exactly Dogpatch, is decidedly non-urban. And like the good ol’ boys in Skynyrd, they’re a lot more insightful than the unsophisticated rubes they seem to delight in playing. The attack is loud, hard and smart, the very essence of no bullshit egalitarian rock, tempered with a smattering of blues and country. “I’ve Been Dying” is relentless, while “Sometimes Found,” an odd combo of Zen and existentialism, is about as introspective as they get. They reference Bruce Willis, Robert Earle Keen, Neil Young and Sammy Hagar (the last two in the same line) in “Headed For The Ditch.” “Let Me Know” is verging on power pop. The title track, and its reprise, the closing “Another Brand New Year,” is a lumbering dirge about how much New Years sucks. “The Bar’s On Fire,” with its opening line of “Oh my God, the bar’s on fire/Somebody save the beer,” is sure to be a perennial jukebox favourite in any decent shot-and-a-beer joint, while “White Boy Blues” tosses a dagger at yuppie musical dilettantes. “Gotta Get Up” absolutely nails the workaday grind. Eric “Roscoe” Ambel once again produces, virtually becoming the fifth Bottle Rocket. With their nothing fancy attitudes and real songs about real people that don’t rely on stereotypes, the boys from Festus are the antithesis of hip, cool and trendy. But, if you’re after heartfelt, hard rocking, and above all, honest music look no farther. (Doolittle)