12 albums to the good and The Bottle Rockets show no signs of slowing their trajectory on new release South Broadway Athletic Club. Not that the album title in any way indicates a new found love of sports participation for Brian Henneman and the band – low-lit bar rooms, front porches and long drives across open country are still the thoroughly American images conjured up by the 11 songs. ‘Big Fat Nuthin’ certainly doesn’t sound like the work of anyone who’s suddenly decided to start running marathons.
Taking their time over this release’s gestation saw the group allow themselves the time to properly find their way into the songs that had, to one extent or another, been a minor negative factor on previous albums. Better to get things worked out in the studio than have to catch up on the run when out on the road. Additionally it allowed for the penning of ‘Something Good’ with Nashville’s The Henningsens, a distinctly rock radio-friendly inclusion if ever there was one.
Elsewhere on the album ‘Building Chryslers’ throws some very effective and crunchy guitar chug into the mix. A minor classic of the disaffected worker variety which ably replicates the production line the track’s subject finds himself in front of every mind-numbing shift. But, with bills to pay, what’s he to do about it?
Henneman makes very good use of 12 string Rickenbacker throughout the album so songs such as ‘Dog’ and ‘Smile’ are adorned with a Byrdsian sound uncommon to the band’s earlier albums, thereby further adding to the breadth their overall sound has gained for this outing. You could almost in fact say that’s a contributing factor to the feeling that this is the wrong time of year to release South Broadway Athletic Club, what with the days shortening and nights getting colder but then maybe it stay’s warmer longer in St. Louis and this can provide the soundtrack to days in bars & nights on porches for a while to come yet.