One of the most notable things about No Depression, or Americana, music is how the genre's central outfits--in particular the Jayhawks and the Uncle Tupelo successor, Wilco--have crafted an entirely new sound. Though the music often recalls the quieter country rock offered by the Byrds and Gram Parsons in the early 1970s, it's so steeped through with other things--like a punk refusal to condescend to the audience--that it sounds both old and new. Golden Smog is a No Depression supergroup that's dominated by the vocals of the Jayhawks' Gary Louris, Wilco's Jeff Tweedy, and Soul Asylum's Dan Murphy. The result is just what you'd expect--this or that goof, like "He's a Dick" by Run Westy Run's Craig Johnson--and just what you wouldn't, most notably little of the weak songwriting that's usually the inevitable hallmark of side projects. On Down by the Old Mainstream it's hard not to get caught up in the clanking piano and insistent chorus in "V"; the shaggily risque "Pecan Pie"; Louris's emotional vocals on "Won't Be Coming Home"; and the closing "Radio King," the most sincere of all of Tweedy's hymns to the music that made him. Out-of-nowhere gem: Louris and Tweedy's reading of Ronnie Lane's "Glad and Sorry." Wednesday and Thursday, 10:30 PM, and next Friday, February 23, 11:30 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620. BILL WYMAN
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Bonnie Butler Murphy.