The worst part about the king's-ransom contracts that record companies have been doling out to such aging superstars as Mötley Crüe and the Rolling Stones (the studios better have wheelchair access by the time the guys reach the end of these long-term deals) is that there's no money left to develop beguiling young acts like Uncle Tupelo.
On their second album this unassuming trio (guitarist Jay Farrar, bass player Jeff Tweedy and drummer Mike Heidorn) from rural Belleville, Ill., present a distinctive and unfettered sampler of scruffy indie rock.
The songwriting has developed since the band's 1990 debut, No Depression, as evidenced by the rabbit punch of "Gun," the shifting, stumbling rhythms of "Nothing," the poignant acoustic ballad "Still Be Around" and "Looking for a Way Out," which sounds like a countrified version of Neil Young's mournful "Powderfinger."
The avuncular approach, though eclectic, usually combines sensitive lyrics with a sloppily dignified style reminiscent of Hüsker Dü or the Meat Puppets, with a little more guitar guts and glory.
They come to their music all wide-eyed, restless and reverent. Boy, could Uncle Tupelo teach the Stones a thing or two. (Rockville)