If you know the music of The Bottle Rockets, you know the winning formula that makes their records so good – Brian Henneman’s gang of guitar slingers play straight-ahead, no bullshit rock & roll with a pop sensibility and a pure American feel (not in a predictable or precious way). Add to the combination of fine songwriting and playing the masterful production of the legendary/brilliant Eric “Roscoe” Ambel (The Del Lords, The Yayhoos, Roscoe’s Gang, etc.) and it’s the kind of album you get friendly with real fast.
And so is the case with the latest in The Bottle Rockets’ canon, South Broadway Athletic Club – 11 fine slices of fresh guitar-driven rock. Launching you along for the ride with the first track, “Monday (Everytime I Turn Around)”, the structure and melody grab you and strap you in – chiming guitars (do I hear a Ric 360-12?), sweet acoustic breaks, crisp drums, economically tasteful guitar solos – this has “radio friendly” written all over it and damn it, it should be coming out of every speaker. “I Don’t Wanna Know” kicks hard in the way Tom Petty wishes he could still write – a roaring riff with taut vocals and clean harmonies; “Dog” is a freewheeling, breezy and upbeat tribute to a beloved pet in a non-cutesy but heartfelt way with some spot-on countryfied fills and “Building Chryslers” is as heavy duty and head turning as you can get – dirty and yet sparkling riffage. “XOYOU” is a buoyant, pure pop number with a subtle boogie vibe and “Shape Of A Wheel” closes the proceedings in completely satisfactory fashion and in a skillful pop way.
I’m a fan of The Bottle Rockets as it is, so to hear something of this nature is no surprise to me. But what IS key is the fact that they’ve been around for quite a while and they always deliver, time and time again. So do yourself a favor – especially if you’re a novice – grab this album and wrap your head around it. Then work your way backwards. It works, believe me. Here’s a perfect place to start…
South Broadway Athletic Club will be released on Friday, October 2nd, 2015.