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Festus, Mo.,’s Bottle Rockets play their determinedly goofy style of alt-country throughout Leftovers. That affinity works to mixed effect on this noticeably slight album (just over 31 minutes) of nine songs that didn’t make the cut for 1997’s 24 Hours a Day. Following that album’s release, the Rockets were unceremoniously dumped from Atlantic Records, but they’re touting Leftovers as a lead-in to an album of all new material set for release later this spring on the Austin-based indie label Doolittle. It’s not clear, however, whether Leftovers represents shades of things past or hints of stuff to come. Here’s hoping for the former. The Bottle Rockets’ country-bumpkin shtick is best suited to material like the tongue-in-cheek country two-step “Coffee Monkey”; elsewhere, the act becomes tiresome. Fortunately, they leave it out of the disc’s best tune, “Get Down River,” a version of which appears on the PBS documentary River of Song and the accompanying Smithsonian Folkways album of the same name. But aside from the effective “Financing His Romance,” too many of the songs on Leftovers are simple variations on country and blues standards that aren’t appreciably improved or executed. And whoever decided to include a three-minute hidden track of crickets chirping ought to be slapped. Leftovers is far too willfully precocious to justify such preciousness. Like a smart-ass kid who keeps it up even when he knows he’s annoying you, this album leaves
you wishing the Bottle Rockets would go play somewhere else.