CD review: The Brooklyn Side

January 25, 2014 

Bottle Rockets’ “The Brooklyn Side.”

  • Rock

    Bottle Rockets

    The Brooklyn Side

Tuneful, clever tales

of working-class life

Falling somewhere between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Merle Haggard is not a formula for popular success. But that too-rock-for-country, too-country-for-rock approach is part of the charm of the Bottle Rockets, who at their best tell sharp-witted stories of working-class life without a trace of condescension or irony.

The Missouri band was at its best on its first two albums, from 1993 and 1994, back in print on this two-disc set. The debut established singer-guitarist Brian Henneman as a refreshingly unaffected songwriting voice that to this listener holds much more appeal than those of Tupelo’s celebrated Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy. Is there a more plaintively devastating song than “Kerosene”? With “The Brooklyn Side,” the Bottle Rockets really delivered on the promise of its predecessor, as grabbers like “Welfare Music” and “1,000 Dollar Car” highlighted a masterpiece.

Each disc comes with numerous bonus tracks, including demos, outtakes, and covers.

Nick Cristiano, Philadelphia Inquirer

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