Son Volt

Son Volt
American Central Dust
Rounder/Umgd, 2009

I hate the term "alt-country". It's just a catch-all genre for anything that's not quite traditional rock, but not quite squeeky-clean enough to be peddled as "new country" to the majority of Americans . To me, bands that are considered "alt-country", such as Rodney Crowell, Son Volt, Dwight Yoakam, Jason Isbell, Tift Merritt, Steve Earle, Scott Miller, Old 97's, Hayes Carll and, of course, Lucinda Williams, are the rightful inheritants of the true country music of Cash, Jones, Cline, Haggard, Jennings, Lynn and Coe.
The bile that's spewed from Nashville these days is hardly "country". It's more like brain-dead-pop music for people who don't like music to begin with. I myself would have to be about a case-deep in Milwaukee's Best Ice with an ice pick firmly inserted in my frontal lobe in order to even attempt to make it through a Rascal Flatts or Trace Adkins record. Even then, I would probably question it's authenticity.
Son Volt is one of those bands that I love, then I forget about, then rediscover all over again. Their 1995 album Trace was truly a classic "alt-country" (vomit) record, and these guys have rarely let me down since.
My only hangup (there's always one) is that Jay Farrar's voice is a bit monotone, and sometimes I think it holds the band back a bit. I always liked Volt's music more than Wilco, but I like Jeff Tweedy's vocals more than Farrar's. If only they could join up to form another band sans the Uncle Tupelo sound. I despised that band. But the chance of that happening is about the same as me ever putting money on the Celtics to win another championship game.
A highlight here is "Cocaine & Ashes". Farrar is able to sing a song about Keith Richards' infamous drug-fueled salute to his dad, true or not, in which he snorted a line of coke cut with his father's ashes. The thing is, Farrar is able to make it sound endearing. In fact, it's down right touching.

Now if that's not country, I don't know what is. Great album.