If you liked Uncle Tupelo, you'll love the Bottle Rockets: singer Brian Henneman was the former's roadie and fill-in guitarist, and the groups share a producer and even stomping grounds on the outskirts of Saint Louis. Most important, the Bottle Rockets come across the way Uncle Tupelo does: as a bunch of punks with a clear-eyed love for the tense emotions and decrepit forms of country and western--with the songwriting and performance chops to back these feelings up. Like any young band, the Bottle Rockets can be a bit labored ("The Very Last Time") and grind out anonymous rockers ("Trailer Mama"). But two songs stand out from their debut record. One is "Wave That Flag," a Neil Young-quality raging rocker that takes on a touchy issue with midwestern trenchancy: addressing the owner of a passing truck flying a Confederate flag, the singer growls, "If somebody owned your ass / How would you feel?" "Kerosene," by contrast, is a classic country meditation on the metaphysics of suffering. Check 'em out; the Handsome Family and Thresholes open. Saturday, 10 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.