Not that you asked, but I’ll tell you my pick for album of the year is “Bit Logic” by the Bottle Rockets. If you don’t know the music of the Bottle Rockets, then go and go now to your favorite place to buy music and buy everything they’ve done. They’re not only one of my favorite bands, but are quite simply one of the best bands in the world that not enough people know about.
I first “discovered” the Bottle Rockets through their front man Brian Henneman’s connection with Uncle Tupelo (he was a member at the end and also sold merch) and then had the pleasure of catching them live in the early 2000s opening for Lucinda Williams at the old Beaumont Club in Kansas City. I was hooked, but that also started a long span of me trying to see them again and not having it work out schedule-wise.
I think they may have played the Blue Door in OKC many years ago, but I ended up having a gig or something else where I missed it. Same thing happened when I had the chance to catch them in Dallas or Wichita. Finally two years ago, my wife and I were on the Outlaw Country Cruise (highly recommend), and low and behold a last minute add were the boys from St. Louis. We caught every set they played, and got to visit quite a bit with them…having breakfast with John on the back deck one day. I could go on and on about my favorite songs, “$1,000 Car”, “Indianapolis”, “Wave that Flag”, and of course, “(I Love My) Dog.” These guys rock it every night and make you feel great to be alive.
Seeing them this year at VZD’s in Oklahoma City was one of my 2018 concert highlights, along with seeing Ramblin’ Jack Elliot. Their show was, as always, fun, fast-paced, and rambunctious. I sang along with every song, and as one does at a Bottle Rockets show, I felt like part of the family.
Which brings me to my album of the year…their latest “Bit Logic.” Full disclosure, I participated in crowdfunding this record as an “executive producer,” but this was the most anticipated record of 2018 for me, and it doesn’t disappoint. Kicking off with the title track talking about technological changes we all face and transitioning right into “Highway 70 Blues,” which feels like an update on Indianapolis, and it keeps on country rockin’ from there. “Low Fi” is another great track and any musician in the alt-country field can relate to the music business struggles relayed in “Bad time to Be an Outlaw.”
This record is 14 tracks solid of great Americana, Outlaw, alt-country, or whatever you want to call this music. The bottom line is, it’s just damn good. Do yourself a favor and buy this record (and as I said earlier, buy their other records, too). Also, go see these guys live. Bands like this are awesome and great, but their gigs are what pay their bills. It’s their main source of income, so do what you can to support them. The Bottle Rockets will be embarking on a tour starting in January. I’ll miss their Oklahoma City show, as I’m already booked out of town, but I’ll catch another one of their shows somewhere. You should too. “Bit Logic” is well worth the listen, and it’s my album of the year.