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No Depression

Uncle Tupelo

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Album Review

Uncle Tupelo's landmark opening salvo is the group's most rock-oriented album, steeped more in breakneck speed, punk crunch, and guitar dissonance than any of their subsequent efforts. Indeed, despite the presence of mandolins, fiddles, and banjos — as well as inclusion of the title track, a faithful cover of the A.P. Carter classic — the trio's vaunted country leanings are less musical than thematic on No Depression, thanks in large part to singers/songwriters Jay Farrar and Jeff Tweedy's acute depictions of rural, blue-collar life. Like the Replacements — never more obvious an influence than on this LP — Uncle Tupelo's songs paint grim, unrelenting portraits of aimless Midwestern existence, split between days working on the opening cut's "Factory Belt" and nights spent blurry-eyed and wasted ("Whiskey Bottle," "Before I Break"). Still, for all of the record's doleful cynicism — virtually every cut nods toward dashed hopes, broken promises, and paralyzing fear — there's an undeniable electricity afoot as well; by channeling the mournful clarity of country into the crackling fury of punk, No Depression brings new life to both musical camps.

Biography

Formed: 1987 in Belleville, IL

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s, '90s

With the release of their 1990 debut LP, No Depression, the Belleville, IL, trio Uncle Tupelo launched more than simply their own career — by fusing the simplicity and honesty of country music with the bracing fury of punk, they kick-started a revolution which reverberated throughout the American underground. Thanks to a successful online site and subsequent fanzine which adopted the album's name, the tag "No Depression" became a catch-all for the like-minded artists who, along with Tupelo,...
Full bio