The Bottle Rockets “Not So Loud: An Acoustic Evening with The Bottle Rockets”


Today’s Cool Album of the Day (#597 in the Series) is The Bottle Rockets – Not So Loud: An Acoustic Evening with The Bottle Rockets (Bloodshot Records)

As a life-long music fan, one of the things that truly excites me is discovering an act that while they may be very new to my sometimes ignorant ears, they have in reality been around quite a long time and have a body of work sometimes spanning a decade or more for me to devour.  Now don’t get me wrong I had Heard of The Bottle Rockets before and was fully aware that many people considered them to be one of the forefathers of the Americana and Alternative Country movements, but I had never really Listened to Bottle Rockets, and certainly had never peeled away the leaves of the artichoke, dipped them in butter and tasted the succulent morsels that would only serve to cleanse the palate in preparation for sampling the core, the artichoke heart of this great band which is quite tasty indeed.

As it turns out, the latest Bottle Rockets Album Not So Loud: An Acoustic Evening with the Bottle Rockets offers up a great “Rockets” primer and serves as a perfect gateway drug in preparation for your trip via the way-back machine all the back to 1993 and their eponymous album followed by 10 artistically diverse, mostly brilliant efforts including Songs of Sahm, a tribute to one of their idols, Texas Troubadour Doug Sahm, and the critically acclaimed The Brooklyn Side that includes the song “1,000 Dollar Car” that could have easily been written and performed by Neil Young and Crazy Horse, the song is that good.

The band has a sound that is a snappy gumbo of Roots Rock, Country-Folk, Southern Boogie, along with songwriting that has an “everyman” soul to it and can stand up to any Springsteen or Mellencamp heart of America song.  The best description of the band’s sound can probably be found in the name of one of founder singer/guitarist Brian Henneman’s early bands Waylon Van Halen & the Ernest Tubbadours, a pretty spot-on description I’d say.

With Not So Loud The Bottle Rockets return to their home base of St. Louis and the now defunct Lucas schoolhouse to record more sublime, intimate versions of songs that span their entire career. Brian Hennemen swaps his signature Stratocaster for an acoustic guitar and a banjo and provides between-song patter that at first seems to detract from the songs but after subsequent listens morphs into charming anecdotes that serve to let the listener get to know the band, their history, and their overall vibe.

Mostly known as a kick-ass boogie rocking band, if you don’t believe me just listen to them go over the ZZ Top on “Radar Gun” from The Brooklyn Side, or “Nancy Sinatra” from Brand New Year, the songs selected for this record all lean to the more ballad, slower tempo side which is a perfect complement for this intimate setting and allows the professionalism, musicianship, and songwriting talent to show through and stand on its own merit.

The songs “1000 Dollar Car , and “Smokin’ 100’s Alone” are particularly exquisite here and are fan favorites if the fan reaction after only a few chords from the small group of St. Louis fans lucky to attend the two shows that make up this live recording is any indication.

If this album has a flaw it is that the overall songs tend to suffer from bit of a tempo sameness quality about them toward the last part of the album and more than once I found myself wishing these “Arch Boys” would kick out the jams and tear into a bad-ass version of “Cortez the Killer”, which the band is fully capable of playing by the way as evidenced by the banjo rocker “Rural Route” on this album, their scorching live shows, and many of the songs in their catalog.

In a musical era of over inflated egos and a prevailing atmosphere of greed taking precedence over artistic integrity in the record business,  it is refreshing to listen to an album where the band has clearly used this platform as an opportunity to reflect on where they have been, where they are going, and to give back to the community and their loyal fans.

I am proud to now count myself as one of their loyal fans and can only say Viva The Bottle Rockets!!

NOTE: This is ON SALE for $5 this month of January from Amazon. 

— Walt Falconer

Track Listing

  1. Early in the Morning (Henneman) 2:08
  2. Gravity Fails (Henneman) 3:09
  3. Lucky Break (Henneman) 2:55
  4. Perfect Far Away (Henneman) 5:21
  5. One of You (Ortmann) 2:14
  6. I Don’t Want to Go Home (Sahm) 5:41
  7. 1000 Dollar Car(Henneman) 3:37
  8. Kit Kat Clock (Henneman) 2:54
  9. Smokin’ 100’s Alone (Henneman) 3:23
  10. Turn for the Worse (Henneman) 3:00
  11. Rural Route (Parr) 7:13
  12. Kerosene (Henneman) 3:38
  13. Mom & Dad (Henneman) 4:43


  •  Brian Henneman – Banjo, Guitar, Vocals
  • John Horton – Guitar,Lap Steel Guitar, Mandolin
  • Kip Loui – Guitar, Vocals
  • Mark Ortmann – Drums (Snare), Hi Hat
  • Keith Voegele – Bass, Harmonica, Vocals


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Posted by Larry Carta

1 Comment

  1. Emily (06 Jan 2012, 9:32)

    Waylon Van Halen! That’s hilarious.

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