Columbia's Legacy label has reissued the first three critically acclaimed albums from Illinois' Uncle Tupelo, originally signed to Rockville Records.

The southern Illinois band launched the folk-rock "no depression" revival more than a decade ago, and eventually spawned two other bands, Son Volt and Wilco. But during its initial run as Uncle Tupelo in the early '90s, the band released No Depression, Still Feel Gone and March 16-20, 1992.

The group inspired a number of artists with its classic Americana sound and earthy, obscure cover songs, and even spawned a magazine for the musical revival, also titled No Depression. Each of its reissued discs includes a handful of bonus tracks demos, alternate and live versions of the songs recorded during the same period as the albums. While Uncle Tupelo is long gone, one of its splinter groups is currently active; Wilco recently played a couple of Chicago dates, and will return to the area to play Milwaukee's Summerfest on July 3.

 

American Hi-Fi - The Art of Losing American Hi-Fi
The Art of Losing
(Island)


What happens if you mix Oasis with the guitar blasts of Foo Fighters and the attitude of Blink 182?

American Hi-Fi.

The Art of Losing crashes out of the speakers like a blast of nitro from a sarcastic sideways snarl. Fast, furious guitars, punk attitude and, yeah, the definite vocal nod to Oasis fuel nearly every track (Oasis fans should buy this disc for "This is the Sound," the best Oasis power ballad, a la "Wonderwall," that Oasis never wrote).

The album opens with the drum stick tricks of "The Art of Losing," a can't-stop-stomping anthem that is followed by the ultimate "kiss-off" in "The Breakup Song" (It's over, we're over/just like in 'Crimson and Clover' so long you're gone/this is the breakup song"). And if Prince had ever recorded a punk sound, it might have sounded like "The Gold Rush," which has a verse that follows the same sing-song snap structure as Prince's "Erotic City," before careening into a "fight, fight" fist-brandishing chorus.

While the band's songs spark off the disc like a brash bunch of newcomers, The Art of Losing is actually its second album (its self-titled debut came out a couple years ago), and its members sport solid rock pedigrees.

The Boston-based band was formed by singer-songwriter and former Veruca Salt/Aimee Mann drummer Stacy Jones, and includes former members of Figdish, Sky Heroes and Tracy Bonham. Its first album was produced by Bob Rock (who also produced Veruca Salt).

American Hi-Fi doesn't offer any innovative new sounds, but it does deliver plenty of energy. The Art of Losing is a solid blast of punky, powerful rock 'n' roll.

For more information, check www.americanhi-fi.com.

American Hi-Fi will play Chicago's Metro with Millencolin and The Unseen on May 10.