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The Bottle Rockets 

Persistence in a bottle

The Bottle Rockets
Hideaway BBQ, Raleigh
Saturday, Jan. 27, 9 p.m.
With Tom Gillam & Tractor Pull and Otis Gibbs
Tickets: $12 in advance, $15 at the door

click to enlarge The Bottle Rockets
  • The Bottle Rockets

It took almost 20 years and eight albums, but The Bottle Rockets frontman Brian Henneman finally did it: He made the album he wanted to make. "It's my proudest album of them all," says Henneman, the amiable leader of the Midwestern four-piece, about last year's Zoysia. "We knew what we wanted it to sound like, we went after what we wanted it to sound like, and we made it sound like that. It probably sounds only 10 percent different from what I imagined in my head."

That's about 40 to 50 percent better than some of the releases in The Bottle Rockets' career, a run fraught with line-up changes, label nonsense and other star-crossed crap. All those albums fit under the fuzzy heading "roots rock," but each has its own personality and quirks, each headstrong or shell-shocked enough to wander a bit in its own direction. And it's sure fun listening to Henneman talk about them.

Like the band's self titled debut: "We took whatever came out." They cranked it out in two and a half days after a snowstorm cut their session in half. He acknowledges that the songs on 1994's The Brooklyn Side work together as a unit, yielding a concept album he describes as "a day in the life of frickin' Festus, Missouri." 24 Hours a Day was a "lucky, let's-see-what-the-hell-comes-out thing," while Brand New Year was driven by, in Henneman's words, "the crazy notion that we were gonna rock." It ended up hijacked by the label and remixed for modern rock radio by the same guy who crafted Three Doors Down's sound for the charts.

But Hennemen and drummer Mark Ortmann, the only original Rockets left, persevere with a sense of humor and some sort of hard-won rock 'n' roll immunity: "We have no intention of hanging it up. It's kind of too late now," he offers with a laugh. "No provisions to do anything else."

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