Uncle Tupelo plays a convincing New Depression country rock that makes similar attempts, even by worthy competitors like the Jayhawks, seem a little superficial. Dominated by the ragged, road-hardened voices of singers and songwriters Jeff Tweedy and Jay Fararr, the band blasted about punkily for a couple of albums before finding a bleak and nuanced voice in the acoustic song cycle they called March 16-20. Now they've backed up a bit to craft a guitar-fueled folk on their new Anodyne, the title of which glosses accurately enough as "a cure for all your ills." The album's carefully written, richly sung, and entirely devoid of irony; Fararr and Tweedy believe in their songs and the sound of their voices, whether it's the bashy workout "Chickamunga," the back-porch harmonies on the mysterious "New Madrid," or the hilarious cry of rock 'n' roll betrayal that is "We've Been Had." The band's expanded sound (on record and on tour, they've got supporting players handling the banjo, mandolin, and pedal steel) makes their sound more mature without gussying things up, and the pair's songwriting gets defter and more subtle with every release. Friday, 7:30 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield; 472-0449 or 559-1212.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Daniel Corrigan.