Roughly a quarter century on from the Bottle Rockets' debut, the group's leader, vocalist, and main songwriter, Brian Henneman, sounds like an older and wiser man. And that suits him and his bandmates just fine. The tenth studio album from the BoRox, 2018's Bit Logic, may not rock as hard as they did on their 1995 breakthrough, The Brooklyn Side, but it rolls just as well, maybe even better. The attack of this music has relaxed a bit, but the feel is richly satisfying, cutting a loosely tight groove that's decisive and soulful. The guitar work from Henneman and John Horton has just enough bark to flatter the group's hard rock influences without drowning out their rootsier side, and bassist Keith Voegele and drummer Mark Ortmann push the music forward with the right amount of force and finesse; this is a band that knows how to rock, but they can ease back on the gas and still deliver solidly. And while Bit Logic doesn't feel like it was meant to be a "personal" set, Henneman's songs are often smart and funny sketches of the thoughts and feelings of a regular guy who also happens to be in a great rock & roll band. He can bemoan the rise of technology (the title cut), grouse about getting stuck in traffic ("Highway 70 Blues"), celebrate truth and beauty however it crosses his path ("Human Perfection" and "Lo-Fi"), enjoy some quiet time with his guitar and a cup of coffee ("Knotty Pine"), and speak some home truths about love among grownups ("Silver Ring"), and at each turn he sounds like a familiar friend who happens to have a keen understanding of human nature and a way with words. Henneman's small but easily relatable tales celebrate the special moments that are part of ordinary lives, and without ever sounding pretentious, he says more about the stuff of the human condition than plenty of folks who get more praise for it. If 2015's South Broadway Athletic Club found the Bottle Rockets unexpectedly delivering one of the best albums of their career, Bit Logic shows that it not only wasn't a fluke, but they have more great music where that came from. ~ Mark Deming
- Genre: Pop
- Format: Vinyl
- Released: 10/12/2018
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