April 25, 2002

HomeBaked Beats

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Sometime back in the ’80s, the wheels starting turning in the heads of a couple of Illinois boys. Why not put a little twang in our punk, or vice versa? Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar founded Uncle Tupelo, taking the raw and gritty energy of the Replacements up a notch. Roots rock committed incest with punk rock, and had a bastard child the press took to calling alt. country. The title of the band’s debut, No Depression, became a catch phrase for like-minded artists, such as The Jayhawks and Ryan Adams’ Whiskeytown. The axle broke at some point, and Jeff and Jay went their separate ways to form Wilco and Son Volt, respectively.

The wheels of No Depression have continued rolling, diverging here and there. And, not so long ago, a hubcap came loose and started rolling in its own direction. The band Hubcap retain the best qualities of their genre, but this incarnation of alt. country has an original and altogether stunning twist.

Hubcap’s recently released debut album, Halogen Sons (on I-Town Records), is a testament to this originality. Songs like the opening “Episode 9” showcase the band’s skill with contrast, as a relatively gentle beginning veers into a scorching chorus, with pelting drums, distorted guitar lines, and the contemptuously repeated line, “Here comes that wretched eye.”

Steve Gollnick emits a genuinely aching twang, but this is tempered by a degree of comfortable humility. Peter Glanville’s guitar leads evoke Crazy Horse six-stringer Danny Whitten. Drummer Ryan Cody is equally adept with driving frenzies and more tamed beats. The versatile Walt Lorenzut (from Wingnut) contributes inventive basslines, something usually absent from this genre.

Halogen Sons is the sort of rare album without much, if any, filler. “No Myth/No Less” has some good ol’ cow-punk a l