The Bottle Rockets have long been known for their blend of
blue collar social commentary and tongue-in-cheek humor. Their latest,
Zoysia, is no exception. Steeped in the southern fried rock
of '70s bands like Lynyrd Skynyrd and Crazy Horse, Zoysia
finds the band ruminating on everything from lost love to the current
US political and cultural climate with ease. The opening "Better
Than Broken" is the ironic tale of a man on the rebound that
combines a melody reminiscent of Wilco with hard rock guitars,
while the politically charged arena rocker "Middle Man"
finds the band pondering the fate of America's "company men."
"I Quit" is a rousing southern blues number with soul backing
vocals, while "Happy Anniversary" has the sweeping, anthemic
feel of Skynyrd in its heyday. "Blind" brings a marked shift
in the album's flow, with its old school country instrumentation and
heavier lyrics about tolerance. "Mountain To Climb" is a
fairly straightforward rocker that is at once melodic and heavy. The
Jethro Tull-inspired "Align Yourself" is the high
point of the album, however. A fuzz-vox diatribe against the post-modern
tendency to apply labels to everyone and everything, "Align Yourself"
marks the most adept social and political commentary in the Bottle
Rockets' repertoire to date. "Suffering Servant" is another
all-out rocker - this time about lost love - while "Feeling Down"
and "Where I'm From" are the least rock tracks on the album.
The former features pedal steel and acoustic melody and '60s harmonies,
while the latter is a tender, predominantly acoustic country-folk
song about lead singer Brian Henneman's hometown. The closing
title track is another southern fried barn burner with lyrics about
middle American conformity and soaring guitar riffs. With its blend
of poignant irony and literate, homespun tales, Zoysia is an
apt tribute and critique to The Bottle Rockets' Missouri roots.
- Tracy M. Rogers
1. Better Than Broken
2. Middle Man
3. I Quit
4. Happy Anniversary
6. Mountain to Climb
7. Align Yourself
8. Suffering Servant
9. Feeling Down
10. Where I'm From
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