RELAUNCH: The alt-country musical landscape has never been particularly star-studded terrain. Thanks to forefathers like Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young and modern-day luminaries like Wilco and Whiskeytown, the genre’s gotten by on a steady stream of normalcy: working-class songs for working-class people, sung by folks who don’t just look and act the part — they embody it. As such, today’s Americana purveyors tend to be some of the hardest working in the business. (Remember Crazy Heart?)
It’s somewhere in the mix of roots and folk and rock, tucked firmly between bands like The Hold Steady and the Old ’97s, where we find The Bottle Rockets. Back in 1992, long before Jeff Tweedy became a household name, the Festus, Missouri, quartet came out swinging, brandishing the kind of bar ballads that hit home no matter where you were, but resonated a little stronger with a stiff drink in hand. Like many of their contemporaries and protégés, The Bottle Rockets make records that feel lively — they’re visceral affairs that benefit from a good-old crank of the dial, immediately striking a trained ear as music made by real musicians. But they also tend to get lumped in with the so-called “unsung heroes” of the modern Americana world.
This Thursday, August 28, the band plugs in at the Lobero Theatre in support of a collection of reissues dubbed Bottle Rockets and the Brooklyn Side (out now on Bloodshot Records). They’ll be joined onstage by power-pop legend Marshall Crenshaw. Read: Expect a whole lot of loud sad songs, patriotic enthusiasm, and honest-to-goodness guitar twang. The show starts at 8 p.m. Call (805) 963-0761 or visit lobero.com for tickets and info.
RAGE ON: And while we’re in the mood to get nostalgic, allow me to introduce The Last Internationale. Boasting Rage Against the Machine (RATM) drummer Brad Wilk is probably enough of a preface to this New York City three-piece, but it’s only part of the story. Guitarist Edgey Pires and frontwoman Delila Paz met last year at an Occupy-aligned protest rally, and before long they’d joined forces and made a fan out of Rage guitarist Tom Morello, who helped bring Wilk into the project. Fueled with the same kind of fervent energy that made RATM so explosive, The Last Internationale wears its political views on its sleeve. (The band’s debut, We Will Reign, kicks off with a track called “Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Indian Blood,” for god’s sake.)
Unlike Rage’s screaming war cries, though, The Last Internationale has found a honey-voiced firecracker in Paz, whose vocal deliveries masterfully straddle the line between a bellow and a scowl. (Think The Kills meets Joan Jett.) Suffice it to say, when a bluesy rhythm section and one of rock’s most stylistically adept percussive powerhouses back her, you’ve got the makings of great things. The band plays Velvet Jones on Tuesday, September 9, at 8 p.m. For info, call (805) 965-8676 or visit velvet-jones.com.
COMING UP: Looking down the live music pike, on Wednesday, September 10, folk singer/songwriter Lily Kershaw plays SOhO Restaurant & Music Club with Bobby Bazini. Seattle orchestral pop act Heartwarmer plays the Biko Co-op Garage with Fake Sick on Monday, September 8. And on Saturday, August 30, Tyga, of “Rack City” fame, headlines the Earl Warren Showgrounds with DJ Hecktik and Yung Deem. Visit tyga.nightout.com for tickets.