Release Date: Aug 11, 2009
Record label: Bloodshot
Genre(s): Rock, Alt-Country
It took the Bottle Rockets three years to come up with a follow-up to 2006's righteous return to form, Zoysia, but it doesn't take long for Lean Forward to demonstrate that Brian Henneman and his bandmates used the time wisely -- if this isn't an out-of-the-park grand slam like Zoysia or The Brooklyn Side, it's a solid home run that confirms the BoRox are still one of America's great unsung rock & roll bands. Plenty of roots rockers have written about their love of fast cars, as Henneman does here on "Nothing But a Driver," but not many have come up with a well-observed slice of life about using public transportation, and "Get on the Bus" is a great example of what the Bottle Rockets do so well, with its lean, wiry melody, the energetic banter between the mandolins and electric guitars, and Henneman's lyrics about the broad cross section of folks brought together on their way home, whether they like it or not. (And the hard boogie of "Nothing But a Driver" surrounds lyrics about a guy who's found a way to satisfy his need for a cool ride by becoming a repo man, hardly the usual gearhead's tale.
Veteran roots rockers lay some wheelAtop the stinging double-stop guitar licks of the Bottle Rockets’ no-frills latest, optimism and good intentions knock heads with the reality of human imperfection. “I’m never gonna waste another day,” frontman Brian Henneman sings on “Shame on Me,” waxing hopeful before countering, “She knows I will anyway. ” grand tradition of Chuck Berry’s “Promised Land” and Carl Montgomery and Earl Green’s oft-covered “Six Days on the Road”), impending doom is never far off: Sure, “Maybe something good is coming at you around the bend,” but look out because “just outta the hills, here’s something slick and about to be spilled.